Bioethics, law and European integration


  • Christian Byk


Bioethics is always described as implying a multidisciplinary and pluralistic approach of the

issues encompassed. No doubt that the law and lawyers have deeply contributed to its origin

and present development. However, conversely to the United States, it seems that bioethics

has opened some new perspectives to the law in Europe. First, it forced the law to move out

of its own frontiers and to apply its reasoning to life sciences issues with the consequence

that some consider that the legal norms are used to legitimate unlawful practices while others

believe legal norms have imposed binding conditions to the free development of science and

technology. Second, Europe is the only region of the world where biomedical techniques are

subjected to legal and sometimes binding harmonisation. In some way, we may conclude that

the role played by the law in the elaboration of European bioethics is just an example of the

important role of the law in the European integration.