On the 17th of November, the European Commission released its new strategy on healthy soils for people, food, nature and climate. The content is in line with the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on the 28th of April adopted which ”recognizes the importance of protecting soil and promoting healthy soils in the Union for the objectives of the European Green Deal” and “stresses the importance of achieving a so-called ’water-smart society’ to support the restauration and protection of soil, as well as of exploring the close relationship between soil health and water pollution.”
The strategy stresses “the crucial role of soil in the water cycle”, calls for a better coordination between the EU water-related legislation and the foreseen Soil Health Law which will build a comprehensive and water-smart framework for soil management. Particularly the synergies with the urban wastewater treatment directive, the industrial emissions directive and the list of surface water and groundwater pollutants will be actively exploited. Moreover, the medium-term objectives by 2030 set up in this strategy fully consider:
- the Water Framework directive targets,
- the quantitative status in groundwater,
- the reduction of nutrient losses, the fight against risks of chemicals pesticides and hazardous pesticides,
- The fight against desertification, droughts and floods.
Moreover, the European Commission recognises the buffer functions of healthy soils, the role of nature-based solutions, the setup of the digital agenda (e.g. sensors, apps) to monitor soil quality, improve knowledge and create synergies with the research and innovation funds.
The EC also stressed that: “recycling organic matter such as compost, digestate, sewage sludge, processed manure and other agricultural residues has many advantages: the material after appropriate treatment services as organic fertiliser, helps to replenish soil carbon pools, and improves water retention capacity and soil structure, and thus enables closing of the nutrient and carbon cycle” which is in line with the EU’s new circular action plan.