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Why and when was the CCNE created?

President François Mitterrand created the CCNE in 1983, following the research summit Assises de la Recherche.

Its mission is to produce opinions and reports on the issues referred to it, in view of stimulating the public debate on ethics. It covers the fields of biology, medicine and health. 


What influence does the CCNE have in Parliament?

The CCNE is a strictly consultative body. It does not affect the sovereignty of the Parliament, which may follow the CCNE’s recommendations if it wishes. The CCNE may take part – on a consultative basis – in the review of laws. For instance, it participated in the review of the bioethics laws of 1994 and – more recently – of the draft law on immigration (opinion n° 100 on the DNA amendment).

Is the CCNE an independent body?

The CCNE became an independent authority by parliamentary decision in 2004. It is affiliated directly to the office of the Prime Minister. Previously, it came under the Inserm research institute.

Is the CCNE strictly consultative?

The CCNE is a strictly consultative body that only issues opinions and recommendations – with no power of enforcement. It does not have a decision-making mandate.

Who can refer questions to the CCNE?

Various personalities can refer questions to the National Consultative Ethics Committee on Health and Life Sciences:  the President of the Republic, a member of the Government, a University or other school of higher education… The CCNE may also choose to address an issue raised by a citizen or one of its members.

Are the CCNE’s meetings public?

Both the plenary sessions and the meetings of the technical section take place behind closed doors. The CCNE reports on its activities regularly and comprehensively to the public at large, for instance during the National Ethics Days, the Youth Forum and the Regional Ethics Days.

Who are the CCNE’s members? How are they appointed?

The make-up of the CCNE is defined by law, which guarantees its multidisciplinary nature. It includes five personalities belonging to "the main philosophical and spiritual families" (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim), 19 personalities chosen for their "qualifications and interest in ethical issues" and 15 from fields of research (Inserm, CNRS, Institut Pasteur).

These 39 members are appointed for a period of four years. The Committee’s work is headed by its president, appointed by the President of the Republic for a period of two years.


What is the CCNE’s role at the international level?

Regular meetings are held with other national ethics committees to discuss new issues brought up by scientific and medical progress. At the global and European levels, many initiatives illustrate this will to work together, including the Global Summit of national ethics committees and the Forum of National Ethics Councils (NEC Forum).

What fields does the CCNE investigate?

The mission of the National Consultative Ethics Committee on Health and Life Sciences is to give opinions on ethical issues raised by the progress of knowledge in the areas of biology, medicine and health. The questions raised by medically assisted procreation and by experiments on humans were the first referred to the Committee, but the scope of investigation has broadened since to many other areas.

How does one define bioethics?

Created after Nuremberg, bioethics is defined as an ethical investigation into the progress of research in the fields of biology, medicine and health.