Soil is a resource of common interest to the EU and failure to protect it at EU level will undermine sustainability and long term competitiveness in Europe. The European Commission has therefore proposed a strategy to ensure that Europe's soils remain healthy and capable of supporting human activities and ecosystems.

The Commission’s strategy sets a common EU framework for action to preserve, protect and restore soil, but leaves Member States flexibility to implement it in a way which fits local situations best.

The Framework Directive sets out common principles, objectives and actions. It requires Member States to adopt a systematic approach to identifying and combating soil degradation, tackling precautionary measures and integrating soils protection into other policies. But is allows for flexibility - it is for the Member States to decide the level of ambition, specific targets and the measures to reach those. This is because soil degradation offers a very scattered picture throughout Europe, where 320 major soil types have been identified.

Member States are required to identify areas where there is a risk of erosion, organic matter decline, compaction, salinisation and landslides. They must set risk reduction targets for those areas and establish programmes of measures to achieve them. They will also have to prevent further contamination, establish an inventory of contaminated sites on their territory and draw up national remediation strategies .When a site is being sold, where a potentially contaminating activity has taken or is taking place, a soil status report has to be provided by the seller or the buyer to the administration and the other party in the transaction.

Finally, the Member States are required to limit or mitigate the effects of sealing, for instance by rehabilitating brownfield sites. The Strategy will boost research on soil and raise public awareness and ensure public participation in the preparation and review of the programmes of measures adopted by the Member States.


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