Vital soil - The Next Step Towards a European Soil Strategy
Ecologic assisted the preparation of the Conference "Vital soil; the next step towards a European Soil Strategy" within the framework of the Dutch EU-Presidency of the European Union. For this purpose, Ecologic prepared a Background Paper that presents the integration of soil protection into the environmental as well as other policies of the European Union and identifies shortcomings and potentials.
Soil is a vital and largely non-renewable resource increasingly under pressure, however there is no legal instrument at the EU level that is directly concerned with soil protection. In 2002, the European Commission recognised soil protection as a specific policy area in the European Union and published the Communication "Towards a Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection".
In order to give momentum to the process of devising a European Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection, the European Commission Directorate General for the Environment and the Dutch EU-Presidency organised this high level Conference on 18-19 November 2004 in Scheveningen/The Hague in the Netherlands. Around 120 representatives of all EU Member States and the Commission, as well as invited experts and stakeholder joined the Conference. The delegations of EU Member States included directors responsible for soil policy and delegates responsible for agri-environment.
The aim of the Conference was to give guidance for the European Soil Thematic Strategy on the further steps. The Conference focused on the major threats for soil identified by the Communication, e.g. erosion, decline in organic matter and soil contamination. The work results of the technical working groups (TWGs) established under the Soil Thematic Strategy initiative were represented and formed the basis for the discussions. In addition, the priority objectives and targets to be included in the Soil Thematic Strategy as well as the role of the European Union in soil protection and land use were discussed.
As a contribution to the preparation of this Dutch EU-Presidency Conference on European Soil Protection Policy, Ecologic was commissioned by the Netherlands Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) to write a Background Paper on the current status of the European Soil Protection Policy and to identify possible ways forward for a better integration of soil protection aspects into other European policy areas.
The Background Paper reviews the integration of soil protection aspects in selected European environmental policies, such as water, waste, air, chemicals, biodiversity conservation, etc. and other policy fields such as the Common Agricultural Policy, Internal Market, etc.. For this purpose, numerous existing and forthcoming European directives and regulations were highlighted and analysed in view of how soil protection and land use issues are considered. On the basis of this analysis, potentials and shortcomings were identified as well as recommendations for a better integration of soil concerns in other policy areas drawn.
The Ecologic Background Paper [pdf, 385 KB, English] is available for download.
- Ruta Landgrebe-Trinkunaite, Ecologic Fellow, in her presentation on "Integration of Soil in EU-Policy" [pdf, 308 KB, English] highlighted the main findings of the Background Paper.
- In addition, Benjamin Görlach, Ecologic Fellow, in his presentation on "Economic Analysis of Soil Functions and Damage" [pdf, 285 KB, English] showed up the main findings of the project "Economic Assessment of Soil Deterioration" carried out by Ecologic.