The consolidation process of the EU regulatory framework on nanotechnologies: within and beyond the EU case-by-case approach
The field of nanotechnologies has been the subject of a process of wide-ranging regulation, which covers two different trends. From the 2000s the European Commission and Parliament agreed on a type of adaptive, experimental and flexible approach, which had its apex with the Commission code of conduct on responsible nano-research developed through a set of consultations. In 2009 this initial agreement subsequently broke down and the EU started to develop a set of regulatory initiatives of a sectoral nature in several fields (cosmetics, food, biocides). Thus, the current arrangement of governance in the field of nanotechnologies appears to be a hybrid, which mixes forms belonging to the new governance method (consultations, self-regulation, agency, comitology committees, networking), working like a lung in the framework of EU policy, with more traditional tools belonging to the classic governance method (regulations, directives). This model of governance based on a case-by-case approach runs the risk of lacking coherence since it is exposed to sudden changes of direction when risks emerge and it has a weak anticipatory dimension due to both its excessive dependency on data collection and its insufficient use of upstream criteria, such as human rights, which should be used earlier, to allow anticipated intervention with a less intense use of hard law solutions.
Keywords: Nanotechnologies; Regulation; New governance; Classic governance method; Human rights