Fostering the use of deliberative processes in the governance of science is one of the strategic goals of the European Commission’s (EC’s) science policy. This goal is formulated explicitly both in the EC’s Action Plan on Science and Society (AP on SAS) (EC, 2001)
and in its Strategy and Action Plan on Nanotechnology (EC, 2004, 2005). According to AP on SAS adopted in 2001 if citizens and civil society are to become partners in the debate on science, technology, and innovation it is not enough to simply keep them informed, but they must also be given the opportunity to express their views in the appropriate bodies (EC, 2001 AP on SAS:14). According to the action plan, science activities shall focus on the needs and aspirations of Europe’s citizens and initiatives that provide a space for informed debate on important issues of public concern by bringing together the public, interest groups, and policy makers. Such initiatives are thought to pave the way for sound policies thus complementing the formal decision-making process (EC, 2001, AP on SAS:14). The EC’s Strategy and Action Plan on Nanotechnology adopted in 2004 also includes among its strategic goals the fostering of deliberative processes. The EC’s “integrated, safe, responsible” and “enabling” approaches to nanotechnologies (NTs) (EC, 2004) are seen as indispensable to the open, traceable, and verifiable development of NT, according to democratic principles (EC, 2004:18). The aim of the EC is to enable the safe development and use of nanotechnology and nanoscience (N&N) and ensure that the public can benefit from the innovations that they may bring while being protected from any adverse impacts. According to the EC’s Strategy and Action Plan on Nanotechnology:
“Without a serious communication effort, nanotechnology innovations could face an unjust negative public reception. An effective two-way dialogue is indispensable, whereby the general publics’ views are taken into account and may be seen to influence decisions concerning R&D policy. The public trust and acceptance of nanotechnology will be crucial for its longterm development and allow us to profit from its potential benefits.” (EC, 2004:19).