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May 2, 2013

Conference Participants Discuss Need for EU Register of Nanomaterials

Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 11-12, 2013, the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment hosted an invitation-only conference entitled “Building Blocks for Completing EU Regulation of Nanomaterials.” The conference was intended to identify areas where current European Union (EU) legislation on nanomaterials is insufficient. Participants include representatives from Member States, the European Commission (EC), European Parliament (EP), industry, and a number of non-governmental organizations. According to the April 29, 2013, Chairman’s Report, during the meeting, many participants “considered that databases or registries will be indispensable for gathering the necessary information on (products with) nanomaterials.” While France has already created a national registry, and other Member States, such as Denmark and Belgium, have taken steps towards creating their own, participants “agreed that a[n] EU-registration on nanomaterials is preferred over a series of varying national databases,” which could “create[] more problems than solutions in improving a harmonised European policy on nanomaterials.” The Chairman’s Report states that an EC official noted that “the main problem on the table is to define the level of information on nanomaterials that is required.” According to the Report, the current EC “(which will be in office until the second half of 2014) is unlikely to take a decision on setting up a community-wide EU-database for (products with) nanomaterials.” Industry participants acknowledged that an EU-wide registry could increase public confidence in the safety of nanomaterials, but expressed their concern that a registry could also stigmatize nanoproducts and increase the costs for small- and medium-sized enterprises. The Majority Agreements states: “There is a need to further discuss the goals, costs/benefits and outcome of a register of (products with) nanomaterials. Such discussion should address:

  • Public concern;
  • Consumers choice;
  • Traceability;
  • Information (for authorities, in the supply chain, for consumers); and
  • Proportionality, etc.