The European policy on nanomaterials was developed on the basis of a Strategy and Action Plan. In this framework, the Commission also adopted a code of conduct for responsible nanosciences and nanotechnologies research. More recently, the Commission has developed two regulatory reviews and a definition of nanomaterials.
Second Regulatory Review 2012
On 3 October 2012, the Commission adopted the Communication on the Second Regulatory Review on Nanomaterials ( 106 KB). It describes the Commission’s plans to improve EU law and its application to ensure their safe use and is accompanied by a Staff Working Paper on nanomaterial types and uses ( 1.5 MB ), including safety aspects, which gives a detailed overview of available information on nanomaterials on the market, including their benefits and risks.
On 18 October 2011 the Commission adopted the Recommendation on the definition of a nanomaterial. According to this Recommendation a "Nanomaterial" means:
A natural, incidental or manufactured material containing particles, in an unbound state or as an aggregate or as an agglomerate and where, for 50% or more of the particles in the number size distribution, one or more external dimensions is in the size range 1 nm - 100 nm.
In specific cases and where warranted by concerns for the environment, health, safety or competitiveness the number size distribution threshold of 50% may be replaced by a threshold between 1% and 50 %.
By derogation from the above, fullerenes, graphene flakes and single wall carbon nanotubes with one or more external dimensions below 1 nm should be considered as nanomaterials.
The definition will be used primarily to identify materials for which special provisions might apply (e.g. for risk assessment or ingredient labelling). Those special provisions are not part of the definition but of specific legislation in which the definition will be used.
The Communication "Nanosciences and nanotechnologies: an action plan for Europe 2005 - 2009", specified that all applications and use of nanosciences and nanotechnologies must comply with the high level of public health, safety, consumers and workers protection, and environmental protection chosen by the Community. The Commission therefore prepared a first regulatory review of EU legislation in relevant sectors in 2008.
The first Communication on Regulatory Aspects of Nanomaterials 2008
Accompanying Staff Working Document (summary of legislation)
EN ( 207 KB)
On 7 February 2008, the European Commission adopted the Communication "Recommendation on a code of conduct for responsible nanosciences and nanotechnologies research
On 29 October 2009, the European Commission adopted the Communication "Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies: an action plan for Europe 2005-2009. Second Implementation Report 2007-2009".
This outlines the key developments during 2007-2009 in each policy area of the Action Plan, identifies current challenges, and draws conclusions relevant to the future European nanotechnology policy. Where appropriate, for the sake of completeness and continuity, developments in preceding years are included. Detailed supporting information can be found in the accompanying Staff Working Document.
Accompanying Staff Working Document (containing detailed information)
EN ( 534KB)
On 6 September 2007, the European Commission adopted the Communication "Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies: an action plan for
Europe 2005-2009. First Implementation Report 2005-2007".
This reports progress in virtually all areas of the Action Plan below.
On 7 June 2005, the European Commission adopted the Communication "Nanosciences and nanotechnologies: an Action Plan for Europe 2005-2009" (COM(2005) 243). This Action Plan defines a series of articulated and interconnected actions for the immediate implementation of a safe, integrated and responsible approach for nanosciences and nanotechnologies, based on the priority areas identified in the above-mentioned European Strategy.
On 12 May 2004, the European Commission adopted the Communication “Towards a European Strategy for Nanotechnology” COM(2004) 338. It seeks to bring the discussion on nanosciences and nanotechnologies to an institutional level and proposes an integrated and responsible approach for Europe.
European Commission's Directorates-General and Services, involved in nanotechnology
Research & Innovation DG
Industrial Technologies for research projects in nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and production technologies (NMP)
Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CNECT)
Nanoelectronics for research projects in nanoelectronics
Enterprise and industry
Chemicals: REACH and nanomaterials
Chemicals policy for chemicals legislation, including nanomaterials
REACH for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), including nanomaterials
Bureau of European Policy Advicers (BEPA)
the European Group on Ethics EGE for ethics related to nanotechnology
Joint Research Centre
Nanotechnology research at the JRC
Employment and Social Affairs DG for societal aspects and occupational safety –
Health and safety at work
Health and Consumer Protection DG for health risk assessment and regulation –
nano related website
Environment DG for environmental risk assessment and regulation–
nano related website