| COMMON FORUM Statements||
COMMON FORUM Durban Statement
The COMMON FORUM on Contaminated Land, initiated in 1994, is a network of
contaminated land policy makers, regulators and technical advisors from Environment Authorities in
European Union member states and European Free Trade Association countries.
The Common Forum welcomes the Commission's willingness to review the need for a Soil Framework Directive.
We would be very willing to engage with the Commission in our mutual interest in ensuring Europe
manages its soil well. We note and welcome the Commission remaining committed to achieving the
objectives of the proposed SFD. We would remind the Commission that we have worked collaboratively to
develop an alternative framework wording on dealing
with contaminated sites using proportionate and focused actions.
It should be considered whether the objectives of the proposed Directive could be
achieved by a modified directive, leaving more flexibility to the member states, by integrating the
objectives into other directives, or by a strengthened strategy with improved knowledge exchange
within a Europe of regions and without specific legislation. The COMMON FORUM is – as always
– ready to be addressed for discussion.
We would also wish to reassure the Commission that despite the SFD not being adopted, considerable
'effective action' in, for example, managing contaminated sites, has taken place throughout Europe
over the last decade, as well as the implementation of the other pillars of the EC Soil Protection
Strategy (e.g. by increasing public awareness or integration of soil protection into other EC policies
– Environment Liability or Industrial Emissions Directive). Considerable efforts have been made
to share good practice amongst member states and regions. We have seen a remarkable convergence on
practice in the identification of contaminated sites, the use of risk assessment to decide on the need
for intervention, the design of integrated strategies with regard to land management also protective
for water resources and the use of innovative remediation technologies to render sites safe for humans
and ecosystems (including water resources).
Also the other soil threats such as soil sealing, loss of soil organic matter and soil erosion as
mentioned in the Soil Thematic Strategy, are already under consideration and solutions are sought in
pilot projects, in addition to being tackled through other existing legislation and voluntary
approaches. These threats can also be considered as challenges when they are valued with regards to
ecosystem services of the soil-sediment-water system.
- COMMON FORUM Durban Statement on Soil Framework Directive
DD/2013.092 - October 18, 2013
(PDF file - 110 KB)
2007 SETAC Conference presentation
Pro's and Con's of the proposed
European Soil Framework Directive
SETAC Conference - May 20-24, 2007 - Dr. Joop J. Vegter
(PDF file -
Common Forum Text Proposal for a Framework for the Protection of the Soil
a) This paper summarises work by the European Common Forum on Contaminated Land to
produce a proposal of alternative text for the proposed EU Soil Framework Directive. The aim of
this work is to inject new thinking into the negotiation of the proposed Directive.
b) The Commission submitted its proposals for a Thematic
Strategy for Soil Protection and a Proposal for a Directive establishing a framework for the
protection of soil to the Council and to the European Parliament on 22 September
2006. The proposal for a Directive is based on Article 192(1) of the Treaty on the
Functioning of the European Union.
c) The Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee delivered their
favourable Opinions on 13 February and on 25 April 2007 respectively.
d) The European Parliament adopted its first-reading opinion on 14 November 2007.
e) In the Council, extensive discussions on the above-mentioned proposal took place
in 2007 under the Portuguese Presidency, in 2008 during the French Presidency, in 2009 under the Czech
Presidency, and in 2010 under the Spanish Presidency.
In the course of these discussions, progress was made on many elements of the proposed Directive.
However, important differences in positions remained on a number of key issues, such that no overall
agreement was reached.
f) The Common Forum is an informal network of contaminated land policy experts and
advisors, drawn mainly from Member State governments and competent authorities, and was created in
1994 (www.commonforum.eu). The Common Forum
provides mutual professional support by:
Being a platform for exchange of knowledge and experiences
Establishing a discussion platform on policy, research, technical and
managerial concepts of contaminated land
Being a platform for initiating and following-up of international projects
Offering an exchange of expertise to the European Commission and to European
and International Networks.
g) The Common Forum has continuously discussed the technical and political aspects of
the contaminated soil issues in the original proposal and in the alternative versions under each
Presidency. Having failed to reach agreement in Council, in light of the desire of many Member States
to have a framework directive for soil, and convinced that common grounds could be found, a
“special task force” of Common Forum members from some Member States was established in
July 2010 during the Belgian Presidency. The task force discussed the reasons for not being able to
reach agreement in Council and proposed amendments to the draft Directive. Experts on soil
degradation processes covered in Chapter II (erosion, organic matter loss, landslides, etc.) were also
invited and brought their experience to the discussions. The amendments were approved by the Common
Forum in autumn 2011.
h) The reasons for opposing the Directive vary from one Member State to
another. Therefore the main focus for this work was to:
identify the key issues where differences in position remained, in relation to
both contaminated land and soil degradation processes, and develop alternative textual suggestions
that offered possible solutions to some of these key issues
consider the ability to implement the Directive, the level and scale of
monitoring of the action plans, and the cost effectiveness of any proposed measures
highlight the requirement for any EU framework regulation to take into account
existing national legal regulations and the experiences acquired in soil protection and
remediation in Member States over the past 30–35 years; in particular in terms of efficiency
for reducing risks for human health and the environment.
i) The discussions also took into account:
The wish to agree common principles in relation to managing soil based on the
principle of sustainability, focusing on preventing soil threats as a priority and agreeing a more
targeted, risk-based approach to identification and remediation
Other environmental thematic needs such as the Water Framework Directive, the
Common Agriculture Policy, etc., and broader issues such as desertification, climate change and
An additional consideration was the need to avoid fragmentation of soil
protection and soil remediation regulations in the EU legal framework. Currently there is a
dispersion of EU soil provisions that causes difficulties in transposition and implementation
(examples include the definition of unpolluted soils in the Mining Residues Directive and of
polluted soils in the Renewable Energies Directive, management of excavated soils on a hazard
basis under the revised Waste Directive, remediation to baseline conditions for some sites and to
risk levels for other under the Industrial Emissions Directive, etc.).
j) The main changes proposed in this alternative draft, based on the
last version discussed at official parties (so called Spanish Version, March 2010) are:
With respect to the contaminated land provisions, an improved overall scheme,
which is more targeted and risk-based and that has enough flexibility to take into account local
conditions and Member State priorities
An on-going dynamic approach, which has a timetable for setting the start of
actions, for seeing the progress done by Member States and adapting to new situations
Some points have been left open for more discussions, for taking into
consideration official parties’ conclusions and some pending concerns. These relate to:
- The way to remove sites from the registers / inventories
- Soil Status Reports (are they really needed in an on-going and public procedure? If so, what
type of report should they be and what should the minimum content be?)
- The need of comitology actions on the methodology of risk assessment.
With respect to Chapter II, a more flexible and efficient, but equally rigorous
approach to identifying priority areas that takes into account differences in Member States’
local circumstances, within the constraints of existing scientific knowledge.
k) This file includes:
- An alternative text proposal incorporating tracked changes ;
- A cleaned version of the above text proposal, with tracked changes removed, to provide an
overview of what this draft could look like.
l) For any information demand, comment, or suggestion, please feel free to contact
General Secretary of the Common Forum on Contaminated Land in Europe (email:
- European Commission
website - Soil pages
COMMON FORUM Working documents
Proposals for text changes in some
articles of the proposed Soil Framework Directive -
(June 7th, 2007 - PDF file - 84 KB) - See also: CF Newsletter #29
Soil Framework Directive Discussion
(July 5th, 2006 - PDF file - 121 KB)
The COMMON FORUM guide to the soil
strategy internet consultation
(August 25th, 2005 - PDF file - 58 KB)
- Soil Directive Alternative
- COMMON FORUM Durban Statement on Soil