Proposal for a directive on soil monitoring and resilience (soil monitoring law)
In “A European Green Deal”
On 17 November 2021, the European Commission adopted, as part of the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030, a new EU soil strategy, encompassing non-legislative and legislative actions. The strategy, which aims to bring all EU soil ecosystems in good condition by 2050, announced that the Commission would table a proposal for a new soil health law to address transboundary impacts of soil degradation and achieve policy coherence at EU and national level.
In its work programme for 2023, published on 18 October 2022, the Commission confirmed its intention to put forward a legislative initiative on protecting, sustainably managing and restoring EU soils. A call for evidence for an impact assessment was published on 16 February and closed on 16 March 2022. The public consultation, running from 1 August to 24 October 2022, attracted 5800 contributions.
In its resolution of 28 April 2021 on soil protection, the European Parliament had called on the Commission to design an EU-wide common legal framework, with full respect for the subsidiarity principle, for the protection and sustainable use of soil, addressing all major soil threats. It asked for the proposal to be accompanied by an in-depth impact assessment based on scientific data, analysing both the costs of action and non-action in terms of immediate and long-term impacts on the environment, human health, the internal market and general sustainability.
On 5 July 2023, the Commission tabled a proposal for a directive on soil monitoring and resilience ('soil monitoring law'), as part of a 'food and biodiversity' legislative package. The long-term objective of the proposed directive is to have all soils across the EU in healthy condition by 2050, as outlined in the soil strategy. To achieve this ambition, the proposal provides a common definition of what constitutes a healthy soil, and lays down measures on monitoring and assessment of soil health, sustainable soil management, and remediation of contaminated sites. Under the proposed directive, Member States would be required to regularly monitor soil health and land take within 'soils districts' to be established throughout their territory. Based on the monitoring data collected, they would have to perform soil health assessments at least every 5 years, enabling them to decide on the regeneration measures needed. The proposal also requests Member States to identify, investigate, assess and remediate contaminated sites. Contaminated sites, and potentially contaminated sites, should be recorded in a national register, publicly accessible online.
In Parliament, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), responsible for the file, discussed the food and biodiversity package with the Commission on 6 July 2023. The ENVI Committee appointed Martin Hojsik (Renew Europe, Slovakia) as rapporteur on 12 September 2023. The Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) is associated under rule 57 of the Rules of Procedure, and will provide an opinion (rapporteur: Maria Noichl, S&D, Germany).
The Commission presented the proposal and its impact assessment to the Council working party on the environment on 27 July 2023. The agricultural aspects of the draft directive were discussed at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 18 September 2023. The working party on the environment continued its examination of the proposal on 6 October 2023.
- EP legislative observatory, Procedure file on Soil monitoring and resilience (soil monitoring law), 2023/0232(COD)
- European Commission, Proposal for a directive on soil monitoring and resilience (soil monitoring law), COM(2023) 416
- European Commission, Commission work programme 2023. A Union standing firm and united, 18 October 2022
- European Commission, EU Soil Strategy for 2030. Reaping the benefits of healthy soils for people, food, nature and climate, COM(2021) 699 fin
- European Commission, Soil health – protecting, sustainably managing and restoring EU soils, public consultation, 1 August 2022
- European Commission, EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. Bringing nature back into our lives, COM(2020) 380
- European Parliament, Resolution of 28 April 2021 on soil protection, 2021/25485(RSP)
Author: Vivienne Halleux, Members' Research Service, firstname.lastname@example.org