[SwafS-18-2016] The Ethics of technologies with high socio-economic impact and Human Rights relevance

Publication date
April 13, 2016
August 30, 2016
Short description

Specific Challenge:

Some technologies raise complex ethical issues that can have considerable socio-economic impact and generate lively debates on research ethics and Human Rights. The areas of genomics human enhancement and man-machine interactions are of particular importance due to their innovative nature and potential impact on jobs and growth. Although repairing an injured body is an accepted and welcome practice, genomics applications and a number of body and mental enhancements as well as the changing nature of the relationship between humans and machines (i.e. robots) raise complex ethical issues that need to be addressed at EU level. In order to promote an inclusive and sustainable socio-economic model, there is a pressing need to provide ethical responses and practical options which support innovation, the research community, facilitates the work of ethics committees and addresses the expectations of society.



While the work shall integrate the broad ethical perspectives of the emerging technologies, especially those with potentially high social and economic impact, the focus shall be on (a) genomics, in particular genetic testing and screening, genetic patents, genetic databanks and pharmacogenomics and (b) human enhancement, including a categorisation of human enhancement practices on the basis of social, medical and technical criteria and (c) human-machine interactions including the creation of intelligent environments. All the concerned technologies raise several interrelated ethical issues for which there is not yet a clear and stable framework at EU and international level.

A comparison, within the EU and with other regions of the world on both the legal framework (existing or under development) and the level of societal awareness and acceptance constitute therefore an important element of the work. Such an analysis shall integrate the role of ethics committees and other advisory and regulatory structures and examine the impact of these technologies while proving the necessary elements to support the research community in integrating the ethics dimension in their research protocols.

Building on and completing existing practices, the work undertaken shall result, for each of the three topics, with operational guidelines for research ethics committees as well as proposing a code of responsible conduct for researchers, taking into account the expectations of the different stakeholders. This shall be achieved by involving actively civil society organizations and panels of citizens from different socio-economic groups including vulnerable populations. As a result the possible enhancement of the existing ethical and legal frameworks shall be proposed while considering the rapid scientific evolution of the emerging fields.

The possibility to generalise the analysis to other new or emerging technologies shall be studied since a number of the conclusions that will be drawn could serve in other technological and research context raising similar ethical issues.

In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged.

Publicly available results from relevant EU funded research projects (mainly from FP7) should be taken into account.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of the order of EUR 3.8 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

This action allows for the provision of financial support to third parties in line with the conditions set out in Part K of the General Annexes.

Expected Impact:

The proposed action will contribute to the development and practical implementation of high ethics standards at EU and international level addressing the growing challenges and expectations vis-à-vis these technologies. The work undertaken will also offer concrete ways of better reconciling the needs of the research teams and the legitimate concerns of the citizens while stimulating innovation and contributing to the reduction of socio-economic inequalities including in health treatment and social status. Overall, it will contribute to the development of new approaches in addressing ethical issues of new and emerging technologies and promoting responsible conduct of research while enhancing the innovative nature and potential socioeconomic impact of these technologies.


Topic conditions and documents

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

  1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.
    Note also that a number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects (follow the links to Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong&Macau, IndiaJapan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan).
  2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme [, with the following exceptions]:

    Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part B of the standard proposal template.
  3. Evaluation

    3.1  Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: described in part H of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme [, with the following exceptions]:

    3.2 Submission and evaluation process: Guide to the submission and evaluation process
  4. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:

    Information on the outcome of single-stage evaluation: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.
  5. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) of action(s) under this topic:

    Coordination and Support Action:

    Specific provisions and funding rates
    Standard proposal template
    Standard evaluation form
    H2020 General MGA -Multi-Beneficiary
    Annotated Grant Agreement
  6. Additional provisions:

    Horizon 2020 budget flexibility

    Classified information

    Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply.

    Financial support to Third Parties – where a topic description foresees financial support to Third Parties, these provisions apply.
  7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions, and proposals must refer to measures envisaged. Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

This topic participates per default in the open access to research data pilot which aims to improve and maximise access to and re-use of research data generated by projects:
• The pilot applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available for open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan (to be provided within six months after the project start).
• Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they are part of the Pilot, and will not be penalised for opting out of the Pilot.
• Projects can at any stage opt-out of the pilot.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.
Further information on the Open Research Data Pilot is made available in the H2020 Online Manual.

8. Additional documents:

H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: Science with and for society

H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation

H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: General Annexes


Call identifier
  • Horizon Europe / H2020
Geographical focus
  • H2020
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Anna Sirocco on May 11, 2016
Modified on May 11, 2016