Donation of tissues and cells should be voluntary, unpaid and – in most cases – anonymous, says a resolution passed by the public health committee on Wednesday.
While healthcare remains mainly a national responsibility, MEPs recommend that EU countries should cooperate better on cross-border donations.
Too few mothers are donating umbilical cord blood which leads to needless deaths.
I hope that my report will increase the sharing of best practice in the European Union so that other Member States can build on the success of cord blood collection schemes in the United Kingdom run by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and the Anthony Nolan Trust.
In the resolution, adopted by 54 votes to 4, with 2 abstentions, MEPs call on all EU countries to ban financial incentives for donation and to clearly define the conditions under which financial compensation may be granted, for example to reimburse travel expenses or loss of earnings.
A minority of EU countries currently have guiding principles on compensation or incentives.
The resolution highlights the value of bilateral agreements that help countries to meet general tissue or cell shortages or to find a donor match when they cannot do so domestically.
But it says patients could benefit further if EU countries work more closely with Eurocet, the European registry of tissues and cells.
MEPs are concerned about the emerging black market for sperm and eggs and call on EU countries to take coordinated action to tackle the associated ethical and public health risks.
The committee points to the potential benefits to medicine of using stem cells.
It says public and private cord blood/stem cell banks should cooperate better and Member States should provide a regulatory framework to ensure the banks operate in a highly transparent and safe way.