[en] Darwin is one of the most challenging space pro jects ever considered by the European Space Agency (ESA). Its principal ob jectives are to detect Earth-like planets around nearby stars and to characterise their atmospheres. Darwin is conceived as a space nulling interferometer" which makes use of on-axis destructive interferences to extinguish the stellar light while keeping the o -axis signal of the orbiting planet. Within the frame of the Darwin program, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) intend to build a ground-based technology demonstrator called GENIE (Ground based European Nulling Interferometry Experiment). Such a ground-based demonstrator built around the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) in Paranal will test some of the key technologies required for the Darwin Infrared Space Interferometer. It will demonstrate that nulling interferometry can be achieved in a broad mid-IR band as a precursor to the next phase of the Darwin program. The present paper will describe the ob jectives and the status of the project.