We strike back. After the Commission withdrew its previous proposal for a framework directive in 2014, and after 8 years of blockage in the Council, the European Parliament has voted and approved a resolution calling to finally ensure an EU-wide legal framework for the protection of soils, such as it exists for air or water.
The rapporteur of the resolution and S&D MEP, Maria Arena, commented:
“We cannot wait any longer to have an adequate protection in the EU of our soils which represent one of the most crucial compartments of our environment, providing food, purified water, biodiversity, and playing an important role in climate regulation. We must protect soils from increasing threats such as erosion, desertification, and pollution, mostly caused by human activities.
“With this report we clearly state that it is high time the EU Commission and member states understand that the best way to protect our soils is to move from fragmented national measures to a coherent and harmonised European approach.
“The European protection of soils should include common definitions, criteria and objectives to ensure that soil is used in a sustainable manner: soil decontamination, limitation of soil sealing, and restoration of degraded soils which are key for biodiversity and climate regulation. We should, last but not least, be sure that the EU does not contribute to soil degradation in third countries.”
S&D coordinator in the environment committee, Jytte Guteland MEP, added:
“The EU cannot afford to ignore soil sustainability any longer. Individual, fragmented and uncoordinated national measures have not and will not cope with the continuous soil degradation in Europe.
“The European Green Deal has made soil protection one of its priorities as without an effective protection, we simply won’t achieve our goals: zero-pollution ambition, halting biodiversity loss, and climate neutrality. We cannot afford to leave out of our scope an ecosystem that hosts a quarter of our biodiversity and is the second largest carbon sink on Earth.
“Soil protection is a horizontal issue. Hence, we need to include its protection in all our sectoral policies. Agricultural policy has for too long encouraged practices not fully respectful of our ecosystems’ balance and natural cycles. If we want to be serious in protecting our health and environment, the EU must be coherent and have a coordinated approach when it comes to managing our soils, our water, our air, biodiversity and climate.”