European Parliament calls for a EU-wide common legal framework for the protection of soil

After the debate at the European Parliament plenary on 26th April 2021 with the European Commission and the Council, the MEPs adopted a resolution on protection on soil on 28th April 2020.

The text adopted is available on the website of the European Parliament and it invites the European Commission to stepping up its efforts to adopt and ambitious EU policy framework on soil.

A holistic framework

Biodiversity, zero pollution, circular economy, research and innovation and the common agricultural policy. The European Parliament Resolution on protection of soil cuts across many different policy areas. It issues a lot of recommendations for the European Commission and the Council. In particular, it calls on the Commission to design an EU-wide common legal framework for the protection and sustainable use of soil, addressing all major soil threats, which shall include, inter alia:

  1. Common definitions of soil, its functions, and criteria for its good status and sustainable use;
  2. Objectives, indicators, including harmonised indicators, and a methodology for the continuous monitoring of and reporting on soil status;
  3. Measurable intermediate and final targets with harmonised datasets and measures to tackle all identified threats and appropriate timelines, taking into consideration best practices learned from ‘first mover’ efforts and respecting land ownership rights;
  4. Clarification of the responsibilities of different stakeholders;
  5. A mechanism for the sharing of best practices and training, as well as adequate control measures;
  6. Adequate financial resources;
  7. Effective integration with relevant policy targets and instruments.

The initiative seems very relevant and important because it calls on the Commission to accompany its proposal with an in-depth impact assessment study. This procedure is typical for highly political and relevant files such as the waste framework directive and the landfill directive.

Political value of the Resolution

An own-initiative report of the European Parliament is not legally binding but is a very useful indicator of the European Parliament’s priorities and concerns and it contains official calls on the European Commission to take action.

Perfect timing – waiting for the EU Updated Thematic Strategy on Soil

The Resolution arrives at the right time and provide the European Commission with the right level of ambition for the upcoming Thematic Strategy on Soil that DG Environment should publish in the next months.