European Parliament vote places soil health on shaky ground

Although the proposal for a Soil Monitoring Law was passed, in a highly disappointing turn of events lawmakers significantly weakened the law, placing the future health of the EU’s soils on shaky ground. This is a sad development and a missed opportunity to transform the already weak proposal into an effective tool for change. 

Healthy soils are crucial for overall ecosystem integrity, food security, farmers’ livelihoods and wider society yet an estimated 60 to 70 % of EU soils are in bad condition due to human activity. Long overdue, the Soil Monitoring Law has the potential to bring degraded soil ecosystems back to health and give them the same level of protection that air and water already have at EU level. 

The European Commission’s proposal for a Soil Monitoring Law was already alarmingly feeble, with strong governance instruments entirely missing, and today’s vote has not only failed to improve it but has weakened it further. 

It is absolutely baffling that – in face of the triple climate, biodiversity and pollution crises – a majority of MEPs decided to reject crucial obligations related to the sustainable management of soils, a binding timeline for the improvement of soil health and requirements related to soil descriptors. This puts the EU’s objective of achieving healthy soils by 2050 on thin ice. 

Caroline Heinzel, Associate Policy Officer for Soil said: It was painful to watch the European Parliament’s plenary undermine the balanced compromise reached in the Environment Committee and adopt an incredibly weak position on the much-needed Soil Law. This decision is incomprehensible. With up to 70% of EU soils already degraded, urgent action is needed now, but the Parliament risks removing any actionable measures to effectively improve soil health. This not only delays necessary action but also jeopardises ecosystem integrity, food security and farmers’ livelihoods. It will now be up to the Council to rise to the challenge and improve the law so that we can start on the pathway towards healthy soils in Europe.

Next up is the Council position, expected for June this year, where it will now be key that the level of ambition is again ramped up. Bringing soils back to health is not optional – it is a prerequisite for the success of the European Green Deal.

Notes to editors

Summary of events leading up to the vote and what the vote means in the wider context.

European Parliament vote places soil health on shaky ground
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