An Ethics Council is a privileged place for the reflection on the ethical issues raised by the progress of science in its various domains. To reflect, give advice, recommend and promote reflection in society in general are some of its essential competences. Portugal was one of the first European countries to feel the need for a bioethics committee at national level, having founded the “Conselho Nacional de Ética para as Ciências da Vida" (CNECV) [National Ethics Council for the Life Sciences] by Law no. 14/90, of 9th June. In May 29th 2009, Law n.º 24/2009 has been enacted. The Council’s fourth and current term of office began on the 30th July, 2009.
Today almost all the countries in Europe have their own National Ethics Council and, even though they may differ in structure, they share the same goal. The promotion of meetings between the National Ethics Councils at European level thus meets the need for the exchange of experiences and brings about joint reflection upon issues which, far from being limited to regional confines, spread across borders and extend worldwide.
The Council has been involved in issuing opinions on current ethical themes, organising and participating in national and international events, striving to fulfil its responsibilities and to stimulate the bioethics debate at all levels of society.