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Citizens and experts to get more information on nanomaterials


Better access to relevant and understandable information about nanomaterials both for European citizens and experts. That is the main goal of an agreement signed between ECHA and the Commission on the European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials.

Helsinki, 7 December 2016 – The signing of the delegation agreement marks the formal kick-off for ECHA to start working on the European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials (EU-ON).

The information sources for the observatory will include data generated by various pieces of EU legislation regulating the safe use of nanomaterials (e.g. REACH, biocides, cosmetics), from national inventories, research projects, and market studies. By that, it will bring added value not only to European citizens but also to policy makers, industry, NGOs and workers. In its first phase, the observatory will only collect information that is already available and not generate any new data.

“There is already quite a lot of information on nanomaterials available. The challenge has been to navigate and find information that is easily understandable and relevant for a wider audience. Our goal is for EU-ON to become a trustworthy source of information that contributes to a well-balanced public debate on nanomaterials,” says Geert Dancet, Executive Director of ECHA.

The EU-ON will be developed in three phases. ECHA will now start to prepare the first phase, which will explain what nanomaterials are and how they are used. It will also deal with safety issues and contain links to research projects. The first phase is set to go live in summer 2017. Later phases include search functionalities and more detailed product information.

The observatory was concluded by the European Commission to be the best tool to increase transparency on nanomaterials on the EU market. The result emerged after several years of discussion and analysing different options, including a thorough impact assessment by the Commission. An alternative option was an EU-wide registry, which would have made it mandatory for industry to notify their use of nanomaterials. The Commission considered that such a registry would be too costly for both industry and authorities.

Background information

Hosting the EU nanomaterials observatory is a delegated task based on a formal delegation agreement between ECHA and the European Commission. Through the delegation agreement, the Commission assigns ECHA with a new task that is outside of ECHA’s core mandate. The Commission also allocates the necessary budgetary resources for ECHA to implement the tasks. The agreement covers the period until 2020.

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