The European Council of Ministers has failed to reach a decision on whether to permit EU funding of research using human embryonic stem cells (HESC). Funding of such research has been on hold while the European Commission, Parliament, and Council have tried to find a way forward despite the conflicting ethical and legal positions of different member states.

The Competitiveness Council of Ministers meeting on December 3 considered proposals by the European Commission, amended by the European Parliament that would have allowed the funding to go ahead.

In the absence of any decision from the council, Italian research minister and acting president of the Competitiveness Council, Letizia Moratti, said: “It is now up to the European Commission to decide on research using stem cells from human embryos, either alone or in conjunction with the next EU [presidency].”

The rotating EU presidency will next be held by Ireland, from January 1,...

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