The European Union's (EU) nanotechnology strategy aims chiefly to catch up the lag behind the US and Asia. The health risks posed by the commercial use of nanomaterials have recently come onto the European Commission's agenda.
The Commission has not so far seen a need for specific legislation to govern nanotechnologies - a view not shared by either Parliament or the European trade union movement.
The European Trade Union Confederation wants the EU to bring the Community legislative framework into line with the precautionary principle. Nanotechnologies may be an economic opportunity that the EU cannot ignore, but their unregulated development is causing growing concern among trade unions due to the health risks posed by certain types of nanomaterials.
In this publication, ETUI researcher Aida Ponce combines a detailed survey of European policy in the area with an exploration of the ethical and social issues surrounding nanotechnologies.