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EU Soil Observatory - policy

The EU Soil Observatory (EUSO) underpins EU policies that touch upon soil. In the absence of a dedicated legislative framework, EU soil protection policy is shaped by the EU Soil Thematic Strategy and provisions of a number of other policy instruments, such as:

  • the Industrial Emissions Directive,
  • the Environmental Liability Directive,
  • the EU Biodiversity Strategy,
  • the EU Forest Strategy,
  • the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The European Commission department responsible for EU policy on the environment (Directorate-General (DG) Environment) provides a good overview of soil policy in the EU:

For more details: visit DG Environment's Soil and Land website

Notable are the results of the project “Inventory and Assessment of Soil Protection Policy Instruments in EU Member States” (Ecologic Institute, 2017).

The project took stock of existing soil protection policies and measures at the EU and Member State level.

It developed an online inventory of soil protection policy instruments (referred to as the "Soil Wiki"). The Soil Wiki is an overview of soil policies in EU Member States.

Visit the Soil Wiki (EU Login required)

It should be noted that the European Commission is currently updating the EU Soil Thematic Strategy. The new Soil Strategy builds on the substantial knowledge base compiled at EU and international level, notably by the European Environment Agency and the Joint Research Centre (ESDAC and LUCAS Soil among others), and on the experiences gained since its adoption in 2006.

EU citizens and stakeholders are invited to provide feedback to the proposed roadmap via the ‘have your say’ website: Health soils - new EU soil strategy.

CAP and future CAP

The CAP contributes already to preventing and mitigating soil degradation processes and the role of soil in the post-2020 CAP seems prominent. In its proposals for the new CAP, amongst the measures foreseen are the preservation of soils through requirements to protect carbon-rich wetlands and practice crop rotation.