Over a half of Europe’s soils are in poor condition

MEP Manuela Ripa (ÖDP) calls on the responsibility of the European Commission

Brussels, 27.01.22. Every year, more than 400 km² of land in the EU are converted into settlement and transport areas, mainly agricultural land. ÖDP MEP Manuela Ripa addressed the European Commission during a meeting of the Environment Committee during which the five Horizon Europe missions were on the agenda: “I am very happy that there is an EU mission on the health of soils. This is exactly what some of my colleagues and I have been campaigning for. What I now wanted to know from the Commission was what exactly the 100 experimental laboratories and lighthouse projects envisaged by the EU would look like in order to restore the health of our soils.  The fight against dramatic land sealing in particular must be on the top of the agenda,” Ripa pointed out at the soil mission.

The missions are a central part of the EU’s Horizon Europe research framework programme and include concrete actions – reaching from research projects to legislative projects – to address the biggest challenges of our time. Mission number 5 on soil health and food aims at restoring the health of at least three-quarters of all soils in the EU by 2030. This should enable Europe to continue to provide essential ecosystem services to ensure healthy food and nature for its people.

“Sealing, desertification, erosion, over-fertilisation and pesticide contamination are among the main reasons why our soils are in such bad shape,” Manuela Ripa points out the threatening state of European soils. In April last year, the European Parliament therefore called on the European Commission to submit a legislative proposal to preserve healthy soils. The EU Commission complied with the demand.

“Given the rapid progress of climate change and the loss of our biodiversity, the Horizon Europe mission for soil health and food should be one of the Commission’s top priorities. In order to achieve the goal of returning our soils to a healthy state by 2030, we also need, in particular, concrete actions that sustainably stop land sealing all over Europe,” Ripa summarises her request to the European Commission. “Without healthy soils we will certainly not achieve the climate goals of the European Green Deal.”