The EU research ministers have reached a political agreement on the FP7, backing EU funding for embryonic stem cell research.

The EU research ministers, gathering in an extraordinary meeting on 24 July 2006, reached a political agreement on the Seventh Framework programme for research and technological development 2007-2013 (FP7). The agreement was reached by a small majority, as the Austrian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish and Slovakian delegations voted against. A unanimous political agreement was reached on the Euratom for nuclear research activities 2007-2011.

The council debate focused on funding research activities involving human embryonic stem cells, which a German-lead coalition tried to exclude from the agreement (see EurActiv 24 July 2006). After assurances that no funding will be granted to research activities which destroy human embryos or are aimed at procurement of stem cells, Germany and some others changed their position, making an agreement possible.

The funding for embryonic stem cell research, therefore, continues under the current case-by-case practice, forbidding research into human cloning and research that would result in hereditable changes. No activity will be funded that is forbidden in all member states and research projects will only be considered for funding from member states where the research is legal. 

The extraordinary meeting of research ministers on 24 July 2006 was called for by the Finnish Presidency to reach a deal on the FP7 before the summer, in order to allow the Parliament to prepare for its second reading in time.

EurActiv will shortly report on stakeholder reactions to the overall FP7 agreement.