- Better protection of soil necessary to reach green targets
- Measures needed to prevent soil sealing
- Scaling up soil-specific research, innovation and funding
Parliament calls on the Commission to design an EU-wide common legal framework for the protection and sustainable use of soil, addressing soil threats and promoting restoration measures.
The resolution initiated by the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee was adopted on Wednesday with 605 votes in favour, 55 against and 41 abstentions. The resolution represents Parliament’s recommendations ahead of the adoption by the Commission later this year of the Zero Pollution Action Plan on water, air and soil and of the new EU Strategy on Soil.
Monday evening, MEPs also held a debate during which they quizzed Portuguese Secretary of State for EU Affairs, Ana Paula Zacarias, and Environment Commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevičius, on the two institutions’ views and plans for a common EU approach on soil protection. Two specific oral questions to the Council and the Commission had also been submitted in view of the plenary debate.
MEPs stressed that effective soil protection is crucial to addressing land degradation and erosion, while preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment, human health and natural resources. In particular, better protection of soils is essential to achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal, such as climate neutrality, biodiversity restoration, zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment, healthy and sustainable food systems and a resilient environment.
The resolution urges the Commission to include measures on prevention and minimisation of soil sealing, with the aim to reach the objectives of “no land degradation” by 2030 and “no net land take” by 2050 at the latest. MEPs also insist that the multifunctional role of soil should be adequately addressed in research and that existing funding programmes should be further adjusted in order to reflect this approach.
Contrary to water and air, there is currently no coherent and integrated EU legal framework for protecting Europe’s soil, with measures on soil protection fragmented among many policy instruments that lack coordination and which are often non-binding. A previous proposal to introduce a legal framework for soil protection in the EU was unsuccessful and was withdrawn in May 2014 by the Commission following years of blockage in the Council.