EU Environment ministers were unable to reach a political agreement on a controversial proposal for a soil framework directive yesterday (20 December) due to a small blocking minority led by three of the EU’s largest member states.
Negotiations between member states on the proposal for a soil framework directive have been “very, very difficult”, according to one EU official close to the discussions.
Germany and Austria have argued that the new law would not respect the principle of subsidiarity and interfere with domestic soil policy.
The UK is concerned about additional policy obligations as well as a possible restriction on housing developments, and has criticised the proposal on the grounds that it would lead to ‘disproportionate’ cost with a negligible environmental benefit.
France, Finland and Sweden also expressed scepticism about the new law, but opposition from these member states was less rigid, with France seen as a key potential swing vote.
But France ultimately sided with the UK and Germany, who also received backing from Austria and The Netherlands.
Despite the support of 22 other EU member states and “various attempts” by the Portguese EU Presidency to reach a compromise, a qualified majority could not be reached.
It remains unclear when another attempt to reach agreement on the file will be made.