European Union: Nanotechnologies — Latest Developments

Last Updated: 14 December 2010
Article by Anna Gergely and Nancy Russotto


Nanotechnologies are heralded as the basis for the 'next industrial revolution', with their commercial use growing exponentially. There are significant knowledge gaps in the understanding of their physico-chemical properties, making it difficult to assess their environmental and toxicological effects. To help foster this technology and fill the knowledge gap, the EU 7th Framework Programme ('FP7') established a budget of €3.5 billion for research on nanotechnologies. In this article, we examine the business challenges companies face and introduce NANOfutures, the EU's central initiative in this area.

NANOfutures: European project on nanotechnologies officially launched

In June 2010, the European Commission and the Spanish EU Presidency officially launched the NANOfutures project (as part of the FP7) to bring together industry, research institutions, and NGOs at all levels and coordinate their activity. The stated aim is to construct and communicate an integrated industrial and research roadmap for nanotechnologies. Eleven existing European Technology Platforms ('ETPs'), which are themselves networks co-ordinating regulator and stakeholder activity in particular technological fields, have joined the initiative. The sectors represented by the ETPs include nanomedicine, chemistry, construction, nanoelectronics, nanomanufacturing, transportation, textiles, and photonics.

NANOfutures is organised into 10 Working Groups, which aim to identify strategies and actions across all industry sectors — a horizontal approach — within their respective field:

  • safety research
  • industrial safety strategy
  • standardisation
  • technology transfer and institution financing
  • regulation
  • industrialisation and manufacturing
  • skills and education
  • networking
  • communication
  • research and technology

Shaping nanotechnologies regulation

Steptoe's nanotechnology practice leader in Brussels, Dr. Anna Gergely, is chair of the NANOfutures Working Group on Regulation, appointed in recognition of her broad experience in regulatory issues and longstanding work on nanotechnologies. The Working Group will serve as a platform, co-ordinating the regulatory developments for nanotechnologies in the EU. Its role will be to identify the essential elements of a regulatory framework by taking into account all viable regulatory options (voluntary and/ or mandatory) as well as the different approaches of the industry sectors represented by the ETPs. The Working Group aims to build on industry's stewardship activities, building trust and confidence between industry and regulators and between industry and public.

Since nanotechnologies are enabling technologies, the Working Group on Regulation will adopt a two-tiered approach to address the wide range of affected industries. First, the Working Group will focus on horizontal issues which are of general interest to all sectors. It will compile and analyse past and present regulatory approaches and ongoing initiatives at the EU and national level. Second, the Working Group will focus on specific sectors, channelling and disseminating nanotechnologies-related information provided by the participating ETPs.

A priority will be to establish key regulation "nodes" (critical elements to be reviewed) including (i) a suitable regulatory definition of 'nanomaterial' which could be agreed internationally and (ii) identifying the basis for sector-specific needs.

The first report of the NANOfutures Working Group on Regulation will be published in the first quarter of 2011. In order to guarantee the delivery of a valuable and broadly agreed contribution, the Working Group on Regulation will solicit input from stakeholders.

Preparing for business challenges of emerging regulation

In addition to the NANOfutures initiative, numerous mandatory and voluntary schemes (at national and international level) are underway to provide an appropriate governance framework on nanotechnologies. One of the most recent examples is in France, where a mandatory reporting scheme was adopted as part of the 'Grenelle II' law, which has been presented as France's contribution to supporting the 'green economy'.

Companies have learned from experience the importance of ensuring that the regulatory environment enables them to innovate and bring products to market without undue restriction. Steptoe & Johnson LLP has an integrated team of lawyers and scientists, armed with the knowledge and experience to help companies evaluate compliance of their processes and products with today's regulation (both general and sector-specific) and anticipate the direction of future regulation. In addition to working constructively with the European Commission, we are involved in the work of the OECD and other bodies which are shaping the regulatory environment for nanotechnology-related activities.

Steptoe is providing support to clients with nanomaterials and nanotechnology-enabled products in order to:

  • ensure compliance with horizontal (e.g. worker safety) and sector-specific requirements (e.g. REACH);
  • protect intellectual property rights;
  • manage liabilities and insurance related concerns; and
  • effectively influence evolving regulation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions