The Science in Society (SIS) Programme supports several European networking activities in relation to ethics including the Forum of National Ethics Councils (NEC Forum). The NEC Forum is an independent, informal platform for exchange of information and best practices on issues of common interest in the field of ethics and science.
NEC Forum membership comprises the chairpersons and secretaries of National Ethics Councils. It meets twice a year, each time hosted by the National Ethics Council of the country that holds the current EU Presidency. In addition to encouraging the early review of emerging ethical issues, the NEC Forum network has developed an important role in exchanging good practices between Member States.
The basis of the NEC Forum is a Resolution of the June 2001 Council of Ministers, inviting the Member States and the European Commission to initiate a dialogue on ethical issues in relation to science and technology. The European Commission responded to this invitation by including in its 'Science and Society Action Plan' the idea of a Forum of National Ethics Councils, which was approved in December 2001.
The first meeting of the NEC Forum took place in Athens, Greece in June 2003 at the initiative of the Greek Ethics Council. Representatives of National Ethics Councils from 14 Member States and 6 associated countries attended.
At every meeting, the NEC Forum also has a joint session with the European Group on Ethics (EGE) an independent, pluralist and multidisciplinary body that advises the president of the European Commission on issues of ethics and science.
The roles of the EGE and the NEC Forum are complementary. The former is appointed to provide high-level specialist ethical advice to the European Commission, particularly in relation to the policy arena. The latter is a networking activity under the Framework Programme with the aim of sharing information and exchanging best practices on issues of ethics and science.
NEC Forum agendas and presentations since the inaugural meeting in 2003 are available from the e-Library.