EU releases soil strategy & plans legal initiative in 2023
On 17 November, the European Commission published the EU Soil Strategy for 2030 together with a proposal for a regulation of deforestation free supply chains. The soil strategy addresses the importance of healthy soils for climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, ecosystem services, food production and the economy.
60-70% of soils in the EU are not healthy, and the EU still lacks a comprehensive soil protection policy, after the proposal for a soil framework directive was withdrawn in 2014. However, to improve the status of European soils, the Commission will table a legislative proposal on soil health by 2023. This legislation should enable the objectives of the 2030 Soil Strategy and achieve good soil health across the EU by 2050.
The strategy integrates and builds on several strategies and legislative proposals such as the Farm to Fork strategy, Biodiversity Strategy and Climate Adaptation Strategy and should contribute to several Green Deal objectives.
Some of the actions the Commission foresees are:
- Consider proposing legally binding nature restoration objectives to maintain and increase soil carbon stocks in the Nature Restoration Law through limit drainage of wetlands and organic soils and to restore managed and drained peatlands and to enhance biodiversity in agricultural land;
- Develop a long-term vision of sustainable carbon cycles and as part of this the EU carbon farming initiative will be presented on 14 December;
- Prepare a set of ‘sustainable soil management’ practices, including regenerative farming in line with agroecological principles;
- Connecting stakeholders and creating a network of ‘sustainable soil management’ ambassadors, including on regenerative and organic agriculture building on the living labs and lighthouses of the Soil Mission;
- Provide assistance to Member States to set up a ‘Test your soil for free’ initiative;
- Prevent soil pollution by revising the Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides, evaluating the Sewage Sludge Directive by 2022, and improving the consideration of soil quality and soil biodiversity in EU risk assessments for chemicals, food and feed additives, pesticides, fertilisers under the ‘one substance one assessment’ initiative.
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