Protecting Europe's soils: policy solutions and opportunities
|Catherine Bowyer , Clunie Keenleyside, Silvia Nanni, Anouchka Hoffmann, Nathalie van Haren , Karin van Boxtel, Paul Wolvekamp
|Bowyer, C. et al. (2018) Initial stocktaking report on existing policy measures. iSQAPER Project Deliverable 8.1, 125 pp
In this section of iSQAPERiS we examine the different types of policy mechanism in place in Europe to protect soils. We provide an overview of the types of intervention and their linkage to soil threat and function. We analyse:
- the policies in place relevant to the protection of soil adopted at EU level
»A review of policy action at the EU level;
- in detail the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) both in terms of the rules set at the EU level
»Understanding the EU Common Agricultural Policy in the context of soil protection
and the role of Member States in delivering and interpreting rules at the national and regional level
»Implementing the Common Agricultural Policy
The CAP is a key policy, central to changing and supporting on farm management practices in Europe and delivering soil protection. It also represents an example of the important role Member States have in ensuring that the goals and objectives of EU laws are implemented; while CAP rules are set at EU level often the level of ambition and change in practice is determined by how Member State choose to translate and interpret these nationally.
- the nationally initiated policies adopted by Member States relevant to the protection of agricultural soils in Europe
»Scoping policy action in European Member States.
The scoping of European polices has been structured in this way to reflect the, in many ways, unique governance situation in the EU. To understand the level of policy protection and the tools used to protection soils, it is necessary to consider the breadth of EU level policy measures (ie those initiated by the institutions of the European Union), and also understand the national (and at times regional) approaches adopted within EU Member States. Member States have a role both in interpreting and implementing EU level policies and a right of initiative in areas not covered by EU laws. When considering policies relevant to soil protection in Europe there are, therefore, three questions to consider, which this Section seeks to address:
- Does a policy exist at the EU level determining the rules for soil protection? (the basis of »A review of policy action at the EU level) – The EU institutions legally hold competence over environmental and agricultural policy development ie. they have the right to generate policies in these fields to ensure the single market and common rights across all Member States.
- What is the role of the Member States in interpreting and delivering the EU policies in question? (examined explicitly for the example of the CAP in »Understanding the EU Common Agricultural Policy in the context of soil protection and »Implementing the Common Agricultural Policy) - EU laws and policy, once adopted, is passed to national governments, and in some cases devolved to regional governments, to implement and deliver specified goals and objectives. The exact role of the Member State and flexibilities to adapt and define the approach to implementation will depend on the type of measure adopted at EU level and the specificity of clauses.
- What is the role of nationally and regionally initiated policy adopted by Member States on their own account in delivering soil protection? (considered in »Scoping policy action in European Member States) – While the EU has competence over environmental and agricultural issues, in the absence of EU policies in an area Member States are free to develop their own approaches. Given the lack of a legally binding, coordinated approach to soil protection and monitoring many have adopted nationally or regionally initiated policies in this field. Moreover, the EU also has limited competency over issues such as spatial planning which are relevant to soil protection or the protection of agricultural land.
Often studies focus on one of these three questions – for example only reviewing EU level laws. Here we have tried to scope out examples related to all the three questions, in order to bring together the different elements and better reflect soil governance in Europe.
Note: see also »Briefing papers where the results emerging from this and other sections of the scientific work programme are placed within wider policy and decision-making contexts.