European Commission consults on registers for nanomaterials

Since 1 January 2013, all manufacturers, importers and traders in France must fulfill the requirements established by the mandatory registration system for nanomaterials. Facing an obvious lack of self-compliance, the French environment minister decided to extend the deadline for the registration to July 1, instead of April 30. This French register is, until now, an isolated national initiative on the monitoring and surveillance of manufactured nanomaterials.

However, other countries such as Italy, Denmark and Belgium are preparing their own national nano-registers. Belgium introduced its draft Royal Decree under the TRIS procedure on July 4, 2013, confirming thereby the growing divergence between EU member states on nanotechnologies regulation. Some countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany are said to be reluctant towards similar projects, which may lead to overregulation, overlaps and conflicting provisions applying to nanomaterials.

The European Commission remains skeptical about the opportunity of providing a specific legal framework for nanomaterials safety, since REACH – the chemicals regulation similar to the US Chemicals Safety Act – already encompasses nanomaterials within its scope of application. As a result, the Commission launched a public consultation on the revision of REACH to include nanomaterials. This deadline expires on September 13, 2013. In the meantime, the Commission also published a call for tender to make an economic impact assessment of the creation of an EU-wide register for nanomaterials and organized a workshop on such project. No EU register appears to be in sight before at least 2015, three years before the next REACH review. [Anthony Bochon]