The European Commission has finally withdrawn its proposal for a Soil Framework Directive following years of NFU lobbying.
The ill-fated draft Directive was first published in 2006 but has remained on hold since the end of 2007 when a coalition made up of the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria blocked its progress at a meeting of the EU Environment Council. This coalition or ‘blocking minority’ of countries has remained firmly opposed to the proposals over this time.
NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “The withdrawal of an EU legislative proposal is unprecedented, but the significant and on-going opposition to the draft Soils Directive text over the past eight years has clearly left the Commission’s original proposals unworkable.
“From the early stages of the negotiations on the draft Soils Directive, and since the halt on its progress at the end of 2007, the NFU has actively called for these proposals to be thrown out. Our long held and firm belief has been that there is no need for additional legislation in this area – soils in the UK, and across the EU, are already protected by a range of laws and other measures, including cross compliance requirements and more targeted measures within agri-environment scheme agreements.
“Farmers have an inherent interest in maintaining their land in good condition and in assuring its long-term fertility and productivity, and we believe that these can be supported through carefully targeted advice and information, voluntary action, partnerships and a greater emphasis on monitoring and research, but not another legislative proposal.”
Notes to editors:
The formal notification of the withdrawal of the Directive is available to read here the Official Journal of the European Union http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=OJ:C:2014:153:FULL&from=EN