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Towards a European code of medical ethics. Ethical and legal issues
  1. Sara Patuzzo1,
  2. Elisabetta Pulice2
  1. 1School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Verona, Verona, Italy
  2. 2Faculty of Law, University of Trento, Trento, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr S Patuzzo, School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Verona, Verona, Italy; sara.patuzzo{at} and Dr E Pulice, Faculty of Law, University of Trento, Italy; elisabetta.pulice{at}


The feasibility of a common European code of medical ethics is discussed, with consideration and evaluation of the difficulties such a project is going to face, from both the legal and ethical points of view. On the one hand, the analysis will underline the limits of a common European code of medical ethics as an instrument for harmonising national professional rules in the European context; on the other hand, we will highlight some of the potentials of this project, which could be increased and strengthened through a proper rulemaking process and through adequate and careful choice of content. We will also stress specific elements and devices that should be taken into consideration during the establishment of the code, from both procedural and content perspectives. Regarding methodological issues, the limits and potentialities of a common European code of medical ethics will be analysed from an ethical point of view and then from a legal perspective. The aim of this paper is to clarify the framework for the potential but controversial role of the code in the European context, showing the difficulties in enforcing and harmonising national ethical rules into a European code of medical ethics.

  • Codes of/Position Statements on Professional Ethics
  • International Migration of Health Professionals
  • Ethics
  • Law
  • Regulation

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  • Contributors The paper is the result of a collaboration of the two authors. The ethical analysis was written by SP and the legal analysis by EP. The introduction and conclusions should be ascribed to both authors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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