On 22 September, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas presented a Soil Framework Directive that leaves plenty of flexibility and time for member states to counter the increasing degradation of Europe’s soils.
After having consulted with all stakeholders, on 22 September 2006 the Commission presented its Soil Strategy, the last of the seven thematic strategies foreseen in the 6th Environment Action Programme. The strategy consists of:
- A communication establishing a ten-year work programme;
- a draft framework directive, and;
- an impact assessment with an analysis of the economic, social and environmental impacts of the proposed measures.
The proposed framework directive defines common principles, objectives and actions but shies away from setting targets for the member states. It leaves the real choices up to the national governments refering to the need for flexibility and subsidiarity.
Member states will have to identify areas at risk from soil erosion and set up an inventory of contaminated sites, prepare a soil-status report and establish a national strategy for remediation of contaminated sites.
The Commission estimates the current costs of soil degradation to be €7-38 billion, but has been unable to assess the costs of implementation of the proposed legislative measures.