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Germany now supports new EU directive against soil pollution

Germany no longer opposes a European directive against soil pollution. As a result, the resistance within the EU against such a guideline decreases further, as emerged last week in the EU Environment Council. France wants to deal with soil protection in the EU as EU chairman in the coming six months.

The EU soil strategy is a result of the European Green Deal and the European Biodiversity Strategy. In this way, Europe wants to tackle the climate and biodiversity challenge. According to the European Commission, 70 percent of soils are now not in good condition. When the plans were presented in November, there were still many protests against European interference in national powers. 

The European Commission wants a law to protect the soil and is supported in this by the European Parliament. Some EU Member States see soil protection as a national matter. So far, Germany has also argued that, unlike air and water, soil was not mobile and that its protection was therefore not a European task. 

The new center-left German government sees it differently. There is a threat of soil degradation everywhere in the EU, said new Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Grünen). Therefore, soil fertility must be tackled together. Lemke emphasized that national and European rules should overlap as little as possible.

Sweden, Denmark and Hungary also called for only the essential, but accept the need for a EU directive.

The new soil strategy stipulates that from 2050 no more arable land and grassland may be lost. Until then, building in agricultural areas must be compensated by reclamation of new agricultural land. Romania and Bulgaria believe that the EU should also free up money for the remediation and cleaning of polluted soils. 

In an initial response in November, LTO-Nederland said that the Netherlands has had its own soil policy for forty years with 'more than enough legal options'. According to LTO, the Netherlands has been one of the first EU member states to pursue an active soil policy since the 1980s, and calls this 'more than sufficient'.

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