More than 300 different soil types in Europe make one-size-fits-all soil protection legislation difficult

Adoption of a soil protection directive has been under discussion at European level in recent years. Among other things and as part of the so-called REFIT programme on eliminating red tape (2 October 2013 – COM 2013 (685)), the European Commission has withdrawn the proposal for a soil protection directive. The German Federal Government has endorsed a rejection of a European soil protection directive on the grounds of subsidiarity.

German industry supports this position unreservedly and therefore welcomes withdrawal of the draft directive.

There have been negotiations at European level on a soil protection directive for many years without this leading to an acceptable result. The project for adoption of European rules on soil protection should therefore finally be dropped.

In the eyes of German industry, it is particularly questionable why rules on soil protection should be adopted at European level. Under the principle of subsidiarity, the European Union should only be active in areas which cannot be dealt with or addressed only unsatisfactorily at the level of the Member States. But cleaning up historical contamination must be carried out in situ taking into account local particularities and the current use or an intended future use. More than 300 different soil types in Europe shows that there are wide regional differences. Soil protection should therefore be regulated exclusively at national level.

But a feature of the principle of subsidiarity is also that the Union may only deploy resources which are adequately proportionate to the objectives in view. Proposals for a soil framework directive discussed in the past have created a general suspicion about authorised commercial and industrial installations and activities which German industry finds unacceptable. BDI has criticised and continues to criticise this general suspicion sharply.