Nanotechnologies - Council Conclusions (Extract from: Provisional Version, Competitiveness Council, 24 September)

September 27, 2004

Brussels, 24 Sep 2004

Following to an exchange of views on the Commission's Communication on an European strategy for nanotechnology, the Council adopted the following conclusions:


1. RECOGNISES the important role and potential of nanosciences and nanotechnologies in many areas, such as health care, information technologies, materials sciences, manufacturing, instrumentation, energy, environment, security, space; and thus their significance for quality of life, sustainable development and the competitiveness of European industry;

2. RECALLS the general context of the Lisbon strategy and the creation of the European Research Area as reflected, notably, in:

  • the Commission's Communication of January 2000 on the European Research Area1 and the subsequent Council Resolutions2 and Conclusions3;
  • the Conclusions of the Lisbon European Council of March 2000 on the strategy for making the EU the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010 and the elaboration of this strategy by the Stockholm, Gothenburg and Barcelona European Councils;
  • the Conclusions of the European Council of March 2003 stressing the need for Europe to do more to turn ideas into real value-added, and Council Resolution4 of 22 September 2003 on investing in research for European growth and competitiveness;
3. NOTES the Commission's Communication of June 2004 "Science and technology, the key to Europe's future ­ Guidelines for future European Union policy to support research"5 which highlighted the need for the integration of research activities, at European level, in highly competitive sectors such as nanotechnology;

4. WELCOMES the Commission's Communication "Towards a European Strategy for Nanotechnology"1 and ENDORSES the main message of this Communication, namely the need to develop an integrated and responsible strategy;

5. NOTING the existing European knowledge base and industrial capacity in nanosciences and nanotechnologies, STRESSES that:

  • with a view to maintaining and reinforcing European scientific excellence and industrial competitiveness, it is important to continue to generate scientific and technological knowledge in nanotechnology and to encourage its use in industrial applications;
  • a coherent and co-ordinated management of initiatives both at the national and European level is needed, thus ensuring efficiency, effectiveness, synergy, concentration of efforts, critical mass and visibility of actions; it WELCOMES forthcoming initiatives to this effect both in areas of enabling technologies and applications, such as nanomaterials, nanoelectronics and nanomedicine;
  • there is a need for a sustainable and responsible development of nanotechnology, addressing its health, environmental, societal, industrial and economic aspects at the earliest possible stage in order to respond to the justified expectations and concerns of European citizens.

6. HIGHLIGHTS the need to pay special attention to actions in the following areas:

  • increasing investment in R&D activities in order to capitalise upon the interdisciplinary nature of nanotechnology and to reinforce the industrial application of nanotechnologies;
  • creating high-level "poles" of excellence and infrastructures in nanotechnology that can compete on a global level by bringing together academia, research organisations and industry to establish an appropriate critical mass, and to develop possible synergy with other initiatives, in particular the European Action for Growth, in line with the conclusions of the European Council of 12 December 2003 in order to strengthen the capital base for nanotechnology research in Europe;
  • promoting interdisciplinary education and training of research personnel together with a stronger entrepreneurial mindset;
  • promoting favourable conditions for technology transfer and innovation, especially taking into account the needs of SMEs, noting in this context the importance of intellectual property rights;
  • integrating societal, environmental and health considerations into the R&D process and assessment of potential risks throughout the life cycle of nanotechnology-based products;

7. INVITES MEMBER STATES to substantially reinforce research, development and innovation for nanotechnology in view of the Lisbon objectives and within the "3%" Barcelona objective, while ensuring maximum effectiveness, efficiency and synergy at European level;

8. WELCOMES the Commission's intention:

  • to draw up an Action Plan for nanotechnology during the first quarter of 2005, after having launched a wide-ranging stakeholder debate;
  • to engage in a dialogue at international level, with a view to establishing a framework of shared principles for the safe, sustainable, responsible and socially acceptable development and use of nanotechnologies."

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