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Milestones of Soil I Protection in EU Environmental Law

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The current legal situation in the European Union does not provide a sufficiently effective framework to protect our soils against damages. The existing legislation covers some aspects of chemical and biological soil protection, e.g. in the sewage sludge directive, the Water Framework Directive, the IPPC Directive, the Habitats Directive as well as in waste management law, but it remains fragmented and focuses on safeguarding the soils as side effects. Furthermore, the requirements for the prevention of soil compaction, erosion, sealing and other physical threats of the soil are hardly considered by EU law. A turning point was marked by the 6th Environmental Action Programme with the intention to develop a specific EU strategy for soil protection (which is due to be published soon). According to reflections de lege ferenda (which could have a stimulating effect in this process), principles and instruments of EU soil protection law could be developed as elements of a targeted policy. The combination of regulative and non-regulative instruments, particularly consisting of those of planning, of direct and indirect behaviour control, of company organisation and of private law, could lead to a more effective protection of the soils. A closer look at these possible EU instruments might be interesting for the development of legal regimes of soil protection at the national and international level as well. These general considerations should be evaluated with regard to the EU competences and the principle of subsidiarity.

Affiliations: 1: Department of European Affairs, Potsdam, Germany


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