On the 3rd September the European Parliament voted to omit from an annual report on fundamental rights an article which raised the issue of assisted dying in Europe. The report on fundamental rights in the European Union in 2002 was prepared on the ‘own-initiative’ of the Committee on Citizen’s Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs. Whilst the report is mostly concerned with other human rights issues and abuses, its draft form had contained one article which:
“Notes, again with respect to the right to life, that the increasingly topical issue of decriminalising voluntary active euthanasia was raised in several Member States in 2002, an extremely delicate subject on which, however, a medical and ethical debate at European level cannot be evaded;”
This article was omitted entirely after an amendment by the Christian Democrats was supported by 339 to 117 MEPs. According to one UK MEP, there has been some effort by Christian Democrats to get a European measure against assisted dying. The deletion of this article from the report may therefore be regarded as a positive outcome, insofar as the Christian Democrats have not succeeded in creating another obstacle for the Right to Die campaign.
A report on Fundamental Rights in 2003 is already being prepared. Its probable timetable is as follows:
- November 4th 2003: a further exchange of views and possibly discussion with experts;
- January 22nd 2004: discussion of a draft report and possibly a public hearing;
- February 19th 2004: adoption of the report by the committee;
- Week commencing March 29th: debate and vote in plenary assembly.
The possibility of raising assisted dying or other related issues in the European Parliament will be discussed at the Luxembourg conference.