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Challenge: Ethics Advisors and Ethics Advisory Boards. Roles and Function in EU-funded Projects

This document provides guidance for the beneficiary to appoint an external independent Ethics Advisor or Board and to specify composition and mandate. The appointment of an Ethics Advisor or Ethics Board can be voluntarily proposed by the applicant in their application or can be obligatory as a result of the Ethics Review.

The EC has issued guidelines on Ethics Advisors and Ethics Advisory Boards that specify details on the appointment/recruitment, expertise, mandate of advisory function, and working practices (eg. MoU, conflict of interest):

An “Ethics Advisor” (EA) is an individual ethics expert giving advice on issues of ethical gravity that relate to the planned and/or ongoing research in the context of an EU-funded project, and, if required, reports to the Commission/Executive Agency/Funding Body.

An “Ethics Advisory Board” (EAB) consists of three or more ethics experts, working together as panel in performing these tasks. A board may be considered if the expertise needed cannot be covered by a single expert.

The EA/EAB members must be independent and external experts, with no conflict of interest. The reports and advice offered shall be pragmatic/workable, clearly explained and justified (with reference to the principles, criteria, approaches being applied, and the sources of this guidance), and be understandable by the partners so that appropriate actions can be taken.

The scope and length of the reports by the EA/EAB should be proportional to the seriousness/complexity of the ethics issues raised by the project’s activities, and, if applicable, be in accordance with the mandate of the EA/EAB included in the Ethics Summary Report.

We recommend including an EA/EAB already in the proposal if the ethics self-assessment has identified critical ethical issues. The EA/EAB needs to be appropriately budgeted, for which we recommend using the EU remuneration for ethical experts. Clarity over fees and expenses is vital.


Ethics Advisors and Ethics Advisory Boards. Roles and Function in EU-funded Projects. Version 2.0. p.15.

Acknowledgements: n.a

Link to EU guidelines.


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