Soil Monitoring Law: MEPs set out measures to achieve healthy soils by 2050 

Press Releases 
  • 60-70 % of European soils are estimated to be in an unhealthy state 
  • MEPs want three different tiers for soil monitoring design 
  • Public list of all contaminated and potentially contaminated soils in all EU countries 

To improve the health of soils in line with the EU Zero Pollution ambition, MEPs want concrete targets to improve soil ecological status in member states.

The Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety on Monday adopted its report on the Commission proposal for a Soil Monitoring Law, the first-ever dedicated EU legislation on soils, with 42 votes to 26 and 14 abstentions.

MEPs support the overall aim to achieve healthy EU soils by 2050, in line with the EU Zero Pollution ambition and the need to put in place a harmonised definition of soil health as well as a comprehensive and coherent monitoring framework to foster sustainable soil management and remediate contaminated sites.

The new law will oblige EU countries to first monitor and then assess the health of all soils in their territory. To enable those willing to implement more comprehensive monitoring systems, MEPs want EU countries to be able to choose among three different tiers for soil monitoring design with different soil descriptors and soil health criteria, with “tier 1” providing a minimum set of soil descriptors.

MEPs want EU countries to improve the soil ecological status as follows: Within ten years, EU countries must improve critically degraded soils to degraded soils and within six years, degraded soils must be improved to moderate ecological status and those with moderate ecological status must be improved to good ecological status.

Contaminated soils

According to the Commission, there are an estimated 2.8 million potentially contaminated sites in the EU. To ensure that the public is informed of contaminated and potentially contaminated sites, MEPs support the requirement to draw up a public list of such sites in all EU countries at the latest four years after entry into force of this Directive.

EU countries will also have investigate, assess and clean up contaminated sites to address unacceptable risks for human health and the environment due to soil contamination. Costs must be borne by the ones responsible for the contamination in line with the ‘polluter pays' principle.

Sustainable Soil Management Toolbox

To support the implementation, the Commission shall make available a public sustainable soil management toolbox that provides soil managers with practical information on the use of sustainable soil management practices, including best practices and latest soil research results.


After the vote, rapporteur Martin HOJSÍK (Renew, Slovakia) said: "We are finally close to achieving a common European framework to protect our soils from degradation. Without healthy soils, there will be no life on this planet. Farmers’ livelihoods and food on our table depend on this non-renewable resource. That is why it is our responsibility to adopt the first EU-wide legislation for its monitoring and health."

Next steps

The text will now be put to a vote at an upcoming plenary session (scheduled for 11 April) and constitute Parliament’s position at first reading. The file will be followed up by the new Parliament after the European elections on 6-9 June.


Around 60-70 % of European soils are estimated to be in an unhealthy state due to issues such as urban expansion, low land recycling rates, intensification of agriculture, and climate change. Degraded soils are major drivers of the climate and biodiversity crises and reduce the provision of key ecosystem services such as food and feed, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, pest control as well as water regulation. According to the Commission, the loss of such essential soil ecosystem services costs the EU at least 50 billion euro per year.