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Biomedicine and EU Law: Unlikely Encounters?


  • Stéphanie Hennette-Vauchez


Over the last decade, a significant body of biomedical law has emerged within EU law. In so far as the EU has long been portrayed as aiming mostly if not only at economic integration, it is surprising at face value to see issues such as human embryonic stem cell research or trade in oocytes even reach the EU's political and legal agenda. Although it is possible to argue that the puzzle waters down when one considers not only that EU has in fact always been open to 'non-market' values on the one hand but also that biomedical issues have themselves undergone radical transformations recently, as one commonly speaks now of 'Tissue Economies', these elements do not seem to suffice for explaining the development of a body of biomedical law within EU law. It is argued here that many of the legal technicalities that sustain the view that the EU does not have any straightforward competences in the field have been balanced by the specifically 'polity-building' dimension of 'Ethics' (and here bioethics). In other words, the research presented here establishes several manners in which 'Ethics'' have been instrumental in the EU law making process, thus bridging EU law and biomedicine and simultaneously enabling the EU to assert itself as polity.

Suggested Citation

  • Stéphanie Hennette-Vauchez, 2010. "Biomedicine and EU Law: Unlikely Encounters?," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 46, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:euirsc:p0256

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