Ethics Advisory Board in Horizon Europe: Functions and Role
There are various approaches to ethical issues. While some of these issues invite simple solutions, other demand complex, multilayered solutions. Regardless of the favored approach, the actions of the Ethics Advisory Board (EAB) and its Ethics Advisors (EA) must be carried out with the best interests of the general public and civil society in perspective. In any EU-funded project, the function of the EA/EAB is to ascertain that no EU rule is violated while also ensuring that the research conducted abroad is up to the accepted EU standards. Overall, where any EC-financed project is deemed to have societal ramifications, the issue of ethics arises, and it is in these instances that the EAs/EABs are invited to make the relevant assessments.
Ethics Advisory Board: External Supervisor Ethics Issues
According to the guidance document on the Roles and Functions of Ethics Advisors/Ethics Advisory Boards in EC-funded Projects, the EAB/EA refers to: “a group of ethics experts or an individual ethics expert who provide advice on ethics in any EC-funded project.” Ethics refer to: “questions of legal and regulatory compliance that constitute a part of the governance process.” In Horizon Europe, ethics is deemed a transversal issue and Ethics Advisory Board a key oversight mechanism to ensure understanding o the Ethics Appraisal Procedure, proper implementation of the Ethics Requirements, addressing specific issues such as Privacy and Data Protection Impact Assessments or Artificial Intelligence and ensuring ethics compliance in general.
Among others, some of the benefits that attend the consideration of ethics in projects include the promotion of research integrity, increase in the likelihood of social impact, increase of the quality of research, aiding public acceptance of the products of the research. Depending on the circumstance, consultation with ethics advisors or the creation of an Ethics Advisory Board for a project can either be voluntary or mandated.
The Role of the Ethics Advisory Board
The EAB performs several roles and functions. The board assumes an oversight function in projects, and helps in efforts to preempt problems and propose possible solutions. The EAB functions as resource points for guidance on ethical issues that arise in projects, and also works in close connection with any partner saddled with ethics-related responsibilities.
The EA/EAB makes sure that projects conform with the relevant EU standards, particularly those involving research outside the EU. Also, where the EAB is involved in a technical deliverable, it is recommended that ethics experts be integrated as project partners to incorporate their expertise in the daily research. In all, the EA/EAB must be on the look out to ensure that the Commission and the general public are not negatively impacted by any aspect of a funded project. Also, any ethics advice given by the EA/EAB must have a foundation in EU/National Laws and must not conflict with them.
MARVEL: Ethics Advisory Board for project addressing smart cities
Managing the Ethics Advisory Board for the MARVEL project required finding experts with specific expertise capable of understanding the complex privacy, data protection and other relevant issues concerning this project. In addition, it was absolutely necessary they were capable of interpreting for themselves the Ethics Requirements the project received following a successful scientific evaluation. Starting from the MARVEL Kick Off meeting, together with the project coordinator, Privanova highlighted the importance of ethics compliance and timely fulfillment of all ethics requirements. At a later stage, we formed the project’s Ethics Advisory Board and organised its first meetings and deliverable reviews.
- Project Coordinator: Dr. Sotiris Ioannidis
- Institution: Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH)
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Start: 01.01.2021
- Duration: 36 months
- Participating Organisations: 17
- Number of countries: 12
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program under grant agreement No 957337. The website reflects only the view of the author(s) and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.