On the College agenda: New actions proposed on soil, deforestation and waste, delivering on the European Green Deal
(Source: European Commission)
A package of new measures and actions to improve soil, and address deforestation and waste shipments, was adopted on 17 November by the College of Commissioners.
“We depend on soil for most of our food and yet, 70% of soil is not in a good shape. Getting soils healthy is simply a matter of our own survival”, Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said in a press conference following the College meeting. He stressed that the new soil strategy sets a number of ambitious and necessary objectives to heal our soils, such as the reduction of soil pollution to non-harmful levels by 2050. “In essence, that is what climate neutrality means, beyond carbon neutrality it also means that your environment has to be in a healthy and good shape.”
The strategy on soil aims to ensure the same level of protection for soils like the one we currently give to water, the marine environment and air, emphasised Commissioner for Environment Virginijus Sinkevičius. “Subject to an impact assessment and broad consultations, the next step will see the Commission launching an impact assessment for a proposal for a Soil Health Law in 2023, to address the transboundary impacts of soil degradation.”
Commisioner Sinkevičius said the other two proposals – Deforestation Regulation and Waste Shipment Regulation – were the most ambitious legislative attempts to tackle these issues ‘ever put forward in the world’. “It shows our responsibility and our willingness to walk our ‘green talks’ globally”, he said.
With the proposed Deforestation Regulation, the Commission’s goal is to ensure that only deforestation-free products enter the EU market, and to promote sustainable consumption. “It targets not just illegal deforestation, but all deforestation driven by agricultural expansion. It is based on mandatory due diligence rules and strict traceability of the commodities and products placed on the EU market,” Commissioner explained.
And lastly, with the revised Regulation on waste shipments, the EU aims to boost the circular economy and ensure that the EU’s waste stops polluting third countries. Executive Vice-President Timmermans explained that this included much stricter rules on the export to non-OECD countries, as well as closer monitoring of export to OECD countries.
“All EU companies exporting waste outside the EU should ensure that the facilities receiving their waste, manage it in an environmentally sound manner,” he said. “Within the EU, we want to simplify procedures for certain shipments for recycling. So, landfill and burning has to be made more difficult and recycling has to be made easier.” This in turn would help create markets of scale for recycled materials and turn waste into a valuable resource, Timmermans concluded.
Questions and answers on: