PROGRESS TOWARDS AN EU SOIL MONITORING LAW

On 5th July, the European Commission published a package of documents aimed at enhancing the resilience of European Union food systems and farming. The package aligns with the European Green Deal’s nature pillar and climate action goals and includes their proposal for a ‘Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Soil Monitoring and Resilience’ (Soil Monitoring Law or SML). While the proposed law is a positive step, it has been criticised by some stakeholders who have also called for specific improvements.

A joint statement from 37 organizations expressed concerns about the proposal’s lack of ambition, urging for strengthened language, legally binding targets, and mandatory plans for achieving healthy soils by 2050. Following this, the European Biogas Association (EBA) and The European Compost Network (ECN) released two separate position papers commending the goals of the proposal but urging the incorporation of concrete Sustainable Soil Management (SSM) practices, the EBA particularly emphasizing the importance of digestate application.

Two committee Draft Reports have been published. On 24 October, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety released their Draft Report with amendments to include binding 2050 targets with the possibility of intermediary targets, soil health classification with five different categories, district plans, reduction of the period to define SSM practices, and a digital toolbox for knowledge exchange. On 13 November, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development published their Draft Report which upgrades ambitions by setting intermediate and long-term targets and emphasizing the role of organic matter and biodiversity in soil health.

Subsequently, the EBA, ECN, ACR+ and EBI published joint recommendations that emphasize the need for an ambitious legislative framework, binding targets, minimum spatial coverage for monitoring, mandatory soil district plans, and an interactive SSM Toolbox that includes the application of organic soil improvers.

These updates reflect ongoing efforts to establish a robust and effective SML, with stakeholders advocating for comprehensive measures to ensure soil health and resilience across the EU and restoration of these soils where needed. The timeline and links to resources are below.

  • 5th July: The European Commission (EC) publishes the Directive on Soil Monitoring and Resilience (SML)
  • 18th July: Thirty-seven organizations release a joint statement criticizing the lack of ambition in the SML and encouraging amendments to strengthen the legislation
  • 22nd September: The European Biogas Association (EBA) releases a position paper
  • 11th October: The European Compost Network (ECN) publishes a position paper
  • 24th October: The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety publish a Draft Report (authored by MEP Hojsík)
  • 31st October: ECN Policy Officer Riccardo Gambini met with MEP Martin Hojsík to present ECN’s position and requests
  • 13 November: The Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development publish a Draft Report
  • 17th November: The EBA, ECN, Association of Cities and Regions for Sustainable Resource Management (ACR+), and European Biochar Industry Consortium (EBI) publish shared recommendations in response to the Draft Reports

Members may login to our website to read a briefing on each of the actions taken towards developing the SML.

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