The European Commission (EC) has strong commitments and recognises the need to continue to ensure that HIV/AIDS research efforts receive global attention. The EC is facing this challenge in a global context and has made substantial investments together with European Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCTP) to formulate a program for the accomplishment of a scientific strategic plan promoting the European/African HIV vaccine development approach. The EC and EDCTP has convened a number of meetings by experts in basic and clinical virology, immunology, epidemiology, as well as industrial and regulatory representatives. The remit of the committee of experts was to define (1) objective criteria for selection of HIV candidates; (2) to determine criteria for selection of sites for clinical trials in Europe and Africa. The resulting consensus paper will guide the EC and EDCTP in developing HIV vaccine strategy and recommendations. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.