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European Economic and Social Committee outlines the Role of Nanotechnology for EU Competitiveness

On 24 February 2016, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) of the European Union published an 'own-initiative opinion' on ‘Nanotechnology for a competitive Chemical Industry’. The document calls for nanotechnology to "be more strongly reflected and supported in the EU's priorities" and declares "freedom in research and fewer bureaucratic requirements would ensure [European Union] competitiveness" in the sector.

The Opinion outlines the role nanotechnology has to play in the chemical and medical sectors, underlining the economic and employment potential of this cutting edge technology. In particular, EESC highlights how nanotechnology can provide environmental and sustainability benefits, for example in water filters and controlling carbon dioxide emissions.

The committee calls for the further development of European clusters of excellence (nanoclusters) and for the simplification of the financial instruments for the EU research framework programme Horizon2020 for SMEs. In addition, informing the public and maintaining a dialogue is regarded as a high priority: the Opinion states that ‘regular dialogues must take place between consumer and environmental organisations, businesses and politicians’.

The EESC also salutes the efforts of the European Commission (EC) and Member States on nanotechnology safety research (estimated in total around 100 million Euro annually). It considers this effort to be ‘appropriate and sufficient’.

Finally, the EESC asks that the European Commission publishes an up-to-date ‘Report on Nanomaterials and Nanotechnologies in Europe’ before 2020.

The full opinon can be found on the EESC website.

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