Regulating the invisible: interaction between the EU and Norway in managing nano-risks

International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, online 21.05.2018, 16 p. DOI: 10.1007/s10784-018-9401-5

Over the last decade, the need for governance of human health and environmental safety risks of nanotechnology (NT) has received increased attention at international, national and EU levels. There were early calls for increased funding of independent research, risk analysis and voluntary or mandatory regulation, but currently overall regulatory efforts have not materialised. One possible explanation is that research has revealed little need to regulate environmental and health safety risks of NT. Alternatively, there is a gap between politics and governance and the evolving state of knowledge. Such a gap can be caused by various factors including change in interests, saliency and organisation. Organisational challenges related to the science-policy interface at national, international and the EU can affect how new knowledge is channelled into decision-making processes. Decrease in public saliency is another possibility. Finally, opposition to regulation among affected producers may have increased and in turn stalled regulation through lobbying. The two explanations are analysed in a multi-level governance context. Norway is chosen as an interesting case: Highly profiled as a frontrunner i.a. in regulating gene technology, but currently awaiting regulations in the EU due to the European Economic Area agreement.