The CCNE is a strictly consultative body. We act when questions are “referred” to us, dealing with societal issues related to the progress in knowledge in the field of health and life sciences.
Various institutions can refer questions to us:
- The President of the Republic
- The Presidents of the Houses of Parliament
- The members of government
- Universities and other institutions of higher education
- Public institutions
- A recognised public interest foundation working mainly in the field of research, technological development or health promotion & protection.
In addition, the Committee can decide itself to take on questions asked by a private individual or a CCNE member. This freedom guarantees our independence and ensures we are in touch with ethical concerns in the community.
The Committee’s work is carried out within three bodies:
- The plenary committee. This is our top deliberative authority. The plenary committee meets once a month to debate the opinions in the pipeline. Adopting an opinion requires a quorum of half the members.
- The technical section. Individual cases are handled by the twelve members of this section, who:
- Answer the question directly if its scope is limited
- Suggest a debate in the plenary committee if the question is more complex or has far-ranging implications for society.
- Working groups: each question is first discussed by a working group, which includes Committee members and the external personalities they may call upon to provide another perspective on the issue.
Both the plenary committee’s and the technical section’s sessions take place behind closed doors.
After a question is investigated, a final report is produced, with recommendations or an opinion.
What is an opinion?
Publishing advisory opinions is one of the CCNE’s key missions. Most often, these opinions are responses to questions referred to us by other stakeholders (the President of the Republic, Parliament, associations, etc.), but we sometimes decide to “self-refer” questions to ourselves. The opinions all discuss issues in the field of health and life sciences.
The production of opinions unfolds in several stages. First, the question is studied by a working group, which can audition external personalities when relevant. Then the working group writes up a report which is discussed by all CCNE members in the technical section and finally in the plenary committee. Following these debates, the texts become opinions or recommendations. Any member may write a complementary note to the opinion to express a divergent view.
Opinions with a far-ranging scope are advertised to the public through press conferences.
Since its creation, the CCNE has published 113 opinions.