Newly elected vice-chairs are the lawyer Volker Lipp, the philosopher Julian Nida-Rümelin and the theoretical neuroscientist Susanne Schreiber. 11 of the current 24 members were appointed to the Ethics Council for the first time on 30 April by the President of the German Parliament (Bundestag) Wolfgang Schäuble; the other 13 Council members had already belonged to the Council during the previous term.
In his welcoming address in the morning, the President of the Bundestag Schäuble expressed his appreciation for the Ethics Council. He paid tribute to the Council's work and encouraged it to continue to raise its voice and to carry forward the important ethical debates, especially in these turbulent times. "We need policy advice from the scientific community and an ethically sound debate" said Schäuble, who, on this occasion, received the Ethics Council's Annual Report 2019.
In the further course of the meeting, the Council members discussed the future work programme. Taking up a request of the German Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, the Ethics Council will first deal with the ethical aspects linked to the respective introduction of a proof of immunity for SARS-CoV-2 and will prepare an Ad Hoc Recommendation on this topic, which is to be published before the parliamentary summer break.
The German Ethics Council was established in April 2008 on the basis of the Ethics Council Act (Ethikratgesetz) of July 2007. The Council shall pursue the ethical, social, medical and legal questions and the anticipated consequences for the individual and society that result in connection with research and development, in particular in the field of the life sciences and their application to humanity. Members specifically represent scientific, medical, theological, philosophical, ethical, social, economic and legal concerns. They are to reflect the diversity of public opinion. Members include scientists from the mentioned fields of science; furthermore, the Council is comprised of persons who are particularly familiar with ethical questions of the life sciences.
Further information on the members of the Ethics Council is available at https://www.ethikrat.org/en/members.