Commission proposal on preventing soil degradation

On 19 April, the European Commission published a Communication on a strategy for soil protection. This is a first step in the development of a fully-fledged EU policy on soil protection.

The Commission issued a Communication called “Towards a Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection”. It describes the problems facing soil use in the EU and it stresses the importance of taking action to improve the situation. It highlights legislative actions that will be taken in different areas, which will have beneficial effects on soil quality:

  • in 2002, the 4th daughter directive under the air quality framework will be proposed, relating to heavy metal and PAH;
  • in 2002, a directive on mining waste will be developed;
  • in 2003, there will be a revision of the sewage sludge directive;
  • by the end of 2004, a directive on bio waste will be proposed;
  • in 2003, there will be a communication on planning and the environment, concerning land-use planning.

The Communication also asks Member States together with the European Environmental Agency to set up monitoring systems to improve data on soil contamination. The aim is to increase the knowledge of the actual situation, and to enable best practice exchanges.


Soil erosion, soil degradation and the sealing of soil are all growing problems in the EU. The 6th Environmental Action Programme proposes seven thematic strategies for environmental protection. One of these focuses on soil protection.


The thematic strategy on soil protection is expected to be presented in 2004. It will take into consideration the comments on this Communication made by the stakeholders involved.


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