EU is working on a subsidy for clean soil; fine for pollution

The European Commission believes that the soil in the EU countries is too polluted, including agricultural land. About sixty percent is not clean and healthy enough. This must be reduced within about 25 years, also by farmers.

But both Dutch LNV Minister Piet Adema and many of his EU colleagues were still heavily criticized in Brussels on Monday. They fear all kinds of new obligations.

At their monthly EU Agriculture Council, many ministers made it clear that the soil conditions of their EU countries are too diverse to draw up a single methodology. They pointed to examples such as the clay soils of coastal countries or the Polynesian and Caribbean rock islands of European overseas territories.

Other site managers and landscape organizations, on the other hand, are pushing for binding agreements, including fines for soil polluters.

In response to comments from parliamentary factions, Adema had previously said 'that we must meet the needs of the soil. This means that we must properly nourish and care for the soil instead of feeding and caring for the crop.'

After the meeting, he denied that he was favoring more organic agriculture and less chemicals in agriculture and horticulture. 'I don't know a farmer who doesn't have an eye for healthy soil, especially in combination with a healthy crop.'

Adema emphasized the importance of clean and healthy soil. 'That produces more crops, you need less fertilizer or inputs, and it also leads to less soil pollution and less leaching of inputs.'

With a light version of a directive, Brussels wants to start with mandatory semi-annual soil surveys, culminating in a system of soil registration and clean soil declarations. This can then be combined with European subsidies for landowners and agricultural users. This clean soil philosophy is part of the Green Deal and from farm to table that was presented in 2020.

Environment Commissioner Virginius Sinkevicius pointed out that the current decline in soil conditions is also causing significant damage and economic losses, especially in agriculture. He says the EU plans to use satellite techniques to monitor ground conditions.

According to him, there are already more than 3 million known contaminated spots in the EU, while in recent years not even all EU countries took intensive measurements and kept records.