LIAISE News Bulletin - 12th Issue
Over the past couple of years Member States and stakeholders have been disputing if and how the European Union should contribute to the conservation of soils. In 2006, following a comprehensive stakeholder consultation, the European Commission tabled their thematic strategy for soil protection, including a proposal for a soil framework directive. However, this proposal has not been adopted because a qualified minority of EU member states opposed it with the arguments of excessive administrative burden and alleged violation of the subsidiarity principles. In February 2012, the European Commission published a report on the implementation of the soil thematic strategy (COM(2012)46final) and ongoing activities, namely awareness raising, research, policy integration and legislation. The report argues that despite considerable efforts in awareness raising, research and integration, the state of soil degradation is still alarming. However, safeguarding soil functionalities at European level is a necessary precondition for meeting upcoming grand societal challenges, particularly food security and sustainable agriculture; energy security; climate action and resource efficiency.
This is the background on which LIAISE researchers in Work Package 2 (‘Science for IA tools and procedures’) invited experts from soil sciences to a workshop in JRC, Ispra, which was held on 24-25 April, 2012. The purpose of the workshop was to present the LIAISE approach and in particular the LIAISE Toolbox to a wider scientific community and to discuss research questions which should be addressed in the future. The workshop was attended by 18 experts from eight European countries, bringing complementary expertise on soil sciences and related policy support.
The initiative was hosted and supported by JRC staff, namely Luca Montarella. JRC would be interested in receiving support from the scientific community on a revised impact assessment for a European directive. As a first step, the LIAISE team, together with the attending scientist, will make a detailed review of the 2006 Impact Assessments. The review will evaluate if new tools and knowledge have been developed since then which could address questions which had to be left open in the earlier assessment.