The European Commission plays two important roles in the development of nanosciences and nanotechnologies; as policy maker and as funding body for research and innovation. The “integrated, safe and responsible approach” proposed by the EC in 2004 has been agreed by stakeholders and is now the core of the EU's nanotechnology policy.
Resources have been mobilized and challenges addressed, as called for by the EC. The Action Plan provided impetus for developments, and progress in almost every area has been identified. While it is difficult to collect all quantitative indicators for the period 2005-2008, a positive impact can nonetheless be seen.
Over the last two years, European research in Nanosciences & Nanotechnology has benefited from considerable financial support, complemented by increased coordination and coherence in relevant policy areas. EU Institutions, Member States, industry, researchers and other interested parties have worked together, sharing information and regularly consulting one another, so that by and large, Europe has been “talking with one voice”.
Efforts have also been made to work more closely with international partners, bi- and multilaterally. International competition increased markedly during 2005-2008, challenging European progress. Some weaknesses are becoming apparent in Europe, in particular a shortage of private investment in research and industrial innovation, a lack of leading interdisciplinary infrastructures, and an increasing risk of duplication and fragmentation in research efforts due
to rising investment by the Member States.
Furthermore, by its own interdisciplinary and novel nature, nanotechnology may challenge established approaches in research, education, patenting and regulation. On recommendation of the Interim Report is that, in the coming years, activities should be consolidated, building on the existing momentum, and paying special attention to the development of interdisciplinary infrastructures; appropriate conditions for the safe and effective use of nanotechnology; and a shared understanding of the responsibility of researchers within an ethical framework.
The Commission intends to submit the next implementation report on the Nanosciences & Nanotechnology Action Plan by the end of 2009.