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Council strips Soil Law of all ambition

The Council adopted its general approach today on the Soil Monitoring Directive, stripping the proposed text of any meaningful means to improve soil conditions in the EU. Member States refused to address the gaps in the Commission proposal with regards to restoring and preserving soil health, and removed most provisions to ensure a harmonised framework for monitoring and assessing soil health.

Even today, soil continues to degrade, with negative impacts on water resources. Healthy soils are also indispensable to sustainable agriculture and climate change adaptation, as they can protect against the worst effects of droughts and floods. For this reason, we welcomed the Commission’s proposal to establish a level playing field through basic requirements for monitoring and assessing soil health.

We are disappointed to see that the Council’s position fails to meet even this basic objective. Member States have refused to harmonise the criteria based on which soils will be categorised, as part of a systematic removal of nearly all EU-level obligations from the text. While we have called for the co-legislators to build on the Commission proposal to achieve concrete improvements in soil conditions, the Council has gone in the opposite direction.

As this general approach follows a disappointing outcome in the European Parliament as well, we remain doubtful that the future Soil Monitoring Law will have any significant impact on the health of European soils in future.

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