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Germany urged to stop blocking European action on Soil during Global Soil Week

Germany urged to stop blocking European action on Soil during Global Soil Week

 
[Berlin, 28 October 2013] The decision makers from the European Commission, German Federal Ministry responsible for the Environment and the European Environmental Bureau are today, as part of the Global Soil Week in Berlin, discussing the need for a legal framework to be adopted at EU level for the protection of European soils.
 
The event comes in the light of the most recent announcement of the European Commission that it will still within this term consider carefully if the objective of protecting European soils could better be served by withdrawing the proposal for a Soil Framework Directive, tabled in 2006.
 
Soil is increasingly being threatened by unsustainable agricultural practices, soil sealing and contamination, which will in turn limit our ability to mitigate as well as to adapt to changing climate and threaten Europe’s food security. Despite this, it has still not been afforded the deserved level of protection at the EU level.
 
The negotiations on the 7th Environment Action Programme (7 EAP) brought about new hope for re-opening of the discussion on the importance of soil protection in Europe at the appropriate political level, making a specific reference to MS commitment to reflect on how to address soil quality issues  within a binding legal framework. “The Commission’s move to threaten to withdraw the proposal flies in the face of the commitment of all three EU legislative institutions in the 7th Environment Action Programme,” said EEB Secretary General Jeremy Wates. “By even raising the possibility of withdrawing the proposal without waiting to see the position of the new German government, Commission President Barroso seems to be intent on placating those pursuing a deregulation agenda.
 
The EEB and the German League for Nature and Environment (DNR) also heavily criticized the longstanding German blocking of the EU Soil Framework Directive: “Healthy soils are crucial for ensuring climate change mitigation, clean drinking water and food security. Therefore, it is incomprehensible, that the German federal government has been blocking EU-wide standards for the protection of soils for years”, said Prof. Dr. Hartmut Vogtmann, President of DNR.
 
There is no new scientific insight that suddenly deems EU-level soil protection unnecessary. Soil services of water purification, waste decomposition and climate change mitigation are well recognised, therefore its status of being a natural resource of strategic importance for the EU cannot be questioned”, added Jeremy Wates, Secretary General of the EEB. “Whether or not the soil directive proposal remains on the table in 2014 will be a key test of the environmental credentials of this Commission and in particular President Barroso himself.
 
ENDS
 
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe’s largest federation of environmental citizens’ organisations. It is the environmental voice of European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. Our aim is to ensure the EU secures a healthy environment and rich biodiversity for all.
 
DNR is the umbrella organisation of the German environmental NGOs. It has close to 100 member organisations, thus representing about 5 million individual members.
 
Martina Mlinaric, EEB Senior Policy Officer for Biodiversity, Water and Soil Protection, email: martina.mlinaric@eeb.org, phone: +32 (0) 476 972 050
 
Alison Abrahams: EEB Communications Officer +32 (0) 2289 13 09 Mobile: +32 489 304 962 alison.abrahams@eeb.org
 
Notes to the editor:
- Global Soil Week 2013: http://globalsoilweek.org/
- Towards an EU legislative framework for soils: Arguments from science and policy: http://globalsoilweek.org/gsw-2013/programme/monday/monday_3_3/
- Soil: worth standing your ground for: Arguments for the Soil Framework Directive (EEB, DNR): http://www.eeb.org/index.cfm/news-events/EEB/?LinkServID=1D2DA6F8-B28F-78BB-6E212DDC63EE80E7
- Commission’s REFIT Communication and Annex: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/president/news/archives/2013/10/pdf/20131002-refit_en.pdf; http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/docs/20131002-refit-annex_en.pdf