Study to support the impact assessment of the Soil Health Law

Soil is a non-renewable resource, it provides valuable ecosystem services. is a key component for human life and supporting around 95% of global food production. Healthy soils are also important for strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change. Currently however, due to a variety of pressures, including from current agricultural practices, soil management, development and urbanisation, water supply and treatment and sewerage practices, EU soils are considered to be in a poor ecological state: between 60-70% are not healthy. This will lead to lower biological and economic productivity, induce changing climate, jeopardise the provision of various ecosystem services that soils provide and form the basis for human life.

Unfortunately, to this very moment, at EU level, legislation concerns soil protection remains fragmented and is often achieved only as a side effect. There is no comprehensive legislation has yet to successfully address protection of soil and its functions at the EU level. As a result, the Commission has recently published the new EU Soil Strategy which will be followed by the Soil Health Law (SHL) in 2023 to significantly improve the state of soils by 2050 and to protect soils on the same legal basis as air and water.

In line with the new EU Soil Strategy, this current study is conducted to support the impact assessment and will provide a key opportunity to address shortcomings and gaps identified in soil protection. Our team will gather and analyse information with the aim to assist the Commission in exploring and developing options for the SHL, and assessing their potential impacts. Our study to support the impact assessment will be developed in line with the latest Commission's Better Regulation Guidelines. The study will include the compiling, assessing, and synthesizing of evidence for the impact assessment. In addition it will be accompanied by the analytical support documents to inform the impact assessment throughout the duration of the study.

Coen Ritsema (Chair of SLM) and Luuk Fleskens (Associate Professor of SLM, Wageningen University), together with experts with strong track record of all aspects (policy regulation, soil science and ecology) from Trinomics (lead), Ricardo, Wood and Ecologic, have formed research consortium to perform this EU assignment.