New Technology

New technologies increasingly impact the daily life of EU citizens, and have become a significant, and expanding, component in all areas of competence of the European Union. Beyond innovation and research, impacts can be found in all areas from the environment, climate, energy and transport, to public health, as well as the protection of consumers, of workers, and more generally of citizens.

In a particularly rapidly evolving environment, the EU policy-making process needs to continuously adapt, and the EU legal framework has to constantly evolve to address the legal, economic or societal challenges that result from these new technologies.

Milieu provides legal and policy advice to the EU institutions to support them, in all areas listed above, and has developed expertise on a large variety of topics:

  • Environment: e.g. nanotechnologies;
  • Climate: e.g. carbon capture and storage;
  • Energy: e.g. smart metering, high-volume hydraulic fracturing for the exploration of shale gas;
  • Public health: e.g. e-health, medical devices, robotics and artificial intelligence in healthcare;
  • Protection of consumers: e.g. e-payments;
  • Protection of workers: e.g. chip implants in workers;
    and more generally protection of citizens: e.g. e-democracy.

Some examples of Milieu’s work in this field are:

Milieu supported the European Parliament in the organisation of the workshop on ‘Robots in Healthcare: A Solution or a Problem?’ (19 February 2019). The aim of the workshop was to provide background information and advice for Members of the ENVI Committee on the status and prospects of applying robotic and artificial intelligence (AI) based technologies in healthcare. The workshop consisted of different presentations and an exchange of views between members of the European Parliament and experts in the area from the health sector and academia.

Various experts specialised in different areas and from different fields were invited to speak at the workshop, in order to convey a comprehensive and balanced picture of the opportunities and challenges related to the emergence of AI and robotic applications within the health sector. The challenges included ethical, legal and socio-economic implications of the deployment of AI and robotic technologies for healthcare

Milieu identified and contacted experts with extensive experience in AI, robotics and healthcare. Milieu staff drafted the press releases for the workshop (both before and after the workshop) and the final workshop report. Milieu also provided logistical support to the European Parliament for the organisation of the workshop. The proceedings can be found online.

The surgical implant of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips has been increasingly used for workplace applications (e.g. for door control, access to office equipment, etc.).

The European Parliament (Committee on Employment and Social Affairs) therefore requested a paper exploring the various issues relating to the possible use of RFID chip implants in the workplace. Specifically, the paper addressed:

  • Current state of play regarding the use of RFID chip implants for workers, by exploring the technology involved and ongoing and planned cases of workplace use;
  • Issues associated with the use of chip implants for workers, including legal issues, ethical considerations, health and safety hazards/risks, and security issues.

The final paper has been published on the website of the European Parliament.

The Commission periodically assesses EU regulation regarding its applicability and effectiveness to address nanomaterials. In its second regulatory review in 2012 it concluded that the regulatory framework (including REACH) and the associated risk assessments are applicable to nanomaterials; however, it identified information gaps and challenges in the establishment of validated methods and indicated the need for more specific requirements on nanomaterials. The Commission then committed to revisit its assessment of the adequacy and implementation of EU legislation on nanomaterials by 2017 in a third regulatory review on nanomaterials. This study was supporting the Commission in the preparation of this third regulatory review.

Milieu was responsible for assessing how nanomaterials (including specific case studies with targeted nanomaterials) and advanced materials are covered under the current EU legislation.