Several NGOs and industry associations have reacted to the approval in the European Parliament on 10 of April of a negotiating position on the Soil Monitoring Law. In line with what was previously reported by Safer Phosphates, European civil society organizations have welcomed the vote as a step forward in ensuring healthier soils and a safer environment, but they called for further action to be taken in the areas of soil protection and restoration.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), one of Europe’s leading environmental advocacy groups, praised the approval of the law but severely criticized the fact that it was weakened in the plenary vote. The lack of obligations and binding timelines, according to a statement released by the EEB, puts Europe’s goals of achieving healthy soils by 2050 “on thin ice”. Furthermore, during an event hosted by the EEB and PAN Europe on 16 April, both organizations called on the EU not to lose sight of its original ambition in pursuit of the Green Deal, and called out conservative and right-wing political parties in the European Parliament for watering down the law.

The Environmental Coalition for Standards (ECOS) was even harsher in its criticism, finding fault with the Parliament for weakening an “already unambitious” proposal from the European Commission, particularly in the rejection of amendments proposed by the Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). In ECOS’s view, the law, as it presently stands, will not have a significant impact on soil health in Europe. According to Martina Forbicini, Programme Officer at ECOS, “the harmful amendments adopted by the European Parliament will do little to improve the health of EU soils, destabilising the ground under EU climate goals”.

Environmental NGOs were not the only sources of criticism. Although EurEAU, an association representing the European water sector, praised the text as providing a “decent basis” for soil monitoring, it expressed its disappointment in the lack of concrete measures for improving soil health as a result of the rejection of the ENVI Committee’s amendments.

Several associations have also called on the European Council to take a more ambitious position than that of the Parliament, including by adding binding requirements for Member States. According to Manuela Ripa, an MEP representing the German Green Party, there are indications that the Council may pursue a more “progressive” line than that of the Parliament in its upcoming vote on the law.