Matteo Renzi
Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Soil represents the outer reactive skin of the Earth and a finite resource that sustains all terrestrial life. Soil allows numerous essential ecosystem functions to operate that are vital for the economy, including food and biomass production, carbon regulation (sink), filtering and attenuation of pollutants, habitat creation for biodiversity, in addition to acting as a direct source of raw material, and infrastructure support. Furthermore, soil is one of the key components contributing to the rich European landscape and its cultural and heritage. Despite their central importance, European soils continue to be seriously and in many cases permanently degraded . Costs associated with these soil degradation processes were evaluated by the European Commission, in 2006, to be on the order of about €38 billion per year (EU25) (see SEC (2006) 1165). In September 2006, the European Commission adopted a Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection (see COM(2006) 231) and a proposal for a Soil Framework Directive (see COM (2006) 232). The legislative proposal was aimed at ensuring a sustainable use of soil and protecting its ability to perform crucial environmental, socioeconomic and cultural functions. The European Parliament adopted its first reading of the proposal for a Soil Framework Directive in November 2007 by a majority of about two thirds. Unfortunately a blocking minority has prevented progress so far in the Council, despite the support of more than 20 Member States. Sadly it appears that in the last eight years very little progress has been achieved with respect to the Soil European Policy and degradation of this finite resource continues in all European countries. Of further concern is that recently the European Commission - despite its commitment to achieve soil protection (see OJ C 163 of 28 May 2014) - has even withdrawn the Soil Framework Directive proposal from its agenda (see OJ C 153 of 21 May 2014). Here we - researchers working in the field of soil and landscape - are asking you to give a clear strong political signal in order to revitalize the European Soil Directive, and by doing this give a chance to ensure the protection and sustainable management of European soils and their pivotal value for the life of future generations, for food security and for protecting our precious landscapes. The current Presidency of the Council of the European Union it is a great opportunity to open a new way to the European Soil Directive also considering the proclamation by the UN General Assembly of the World Soil Day (5 December), the International Year of Soils 2015 and the feeding the planet theme of EXPO2015. We are inviting you to work actively to ensure that the Soil Directive finally becomes an official regulatory instrument for all the EU citizens.

------------------------------- First signatures

Fabio Terribile - President Italian Society of Pedology; University Napoli Federico II; Italy
Dominique Arrouays - President French Society of Soil Science (AFES); INRA-Orléans Environment and Agronomy Division; France
Rainer Horn - President International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS); Institute for Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, Kiel, Germany
Thomas Scholten - President German Society of Soil Science; Universität Tübingen; Germany
Carmelo Dazzi - President European Society for Soil Conservation University Palermo; Italy
Jaume Porta Casanellas - President Spanish Society of Soil Science; Universidad de Lleida; Spain
Nicola Senesi - President Italian Society of Soil Science; University of Bari; Italy
Carlos Alberto de Jesus Alexandre - President Portoguese Society of Soil Science; Portugal
Nick Barbayiannis - President Hellenic Soil Science Society; Aristotle University of Thessaloniki; Greece
Andreas Baumgarten - President Austrian Soil Science Society Institute for Soil Health and Plant Nutrition; Austria
Josef Kozák - President Czech Society of Soil Science; Czech University of Agriculture, Czech Republic
Claudio Ciavatta - President Italian Society of Agriculture Chemistry; University Bologna; Italy
Teodor Rusu - President Transylvania Branch - Romanian National Society of Soil Science University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Manastur; Rumania
Winfried E.H. Blum - Past Secretary General of the IUSS; em.Professor of Soil Science, BOKU University; Austria
Johan Bouma - Wageningen University (Emeritus Professor); The Netherlands
Karl Stahr - Prof. em. Dr.Karl Stahr - Universität Hohenheim; Germany
Paul Quantin - formerly at Institute de Recherche pour le Développement, Paris, France
Lijbert Brussaard - School Production Ecology & Resource Conservation, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Carmen Trasar Cepeda - Instituto de Investigaciones Agrobiológicas de Galicia- CSIC; Spain
Antonio Delgado - Dpto. Ciencias Agroforestales, ETSIA, Universidad de Sevilla; Spain
Endre Dobos - University of Miskolc; Hungary
Sigbert Huber - Secretary General of the Austrian Soil Science Society;
Paolo Nannipieri - University Firenze; Italy
Ronald Vargas Rojas - FAO; Secretary of the Global Soil Partnership; Italy
Carlos Garcia - CEBAS-CSIC; Spain
Marcello Pagliai - formerly Director CRA-ABP; Italy
Paola Adamo - University Napoli Federico II, Italy
Francesco Alianiello - CRA - RPS Roma; Italy
Arnold H. Arnoldussen - Specialist land use and soil management, Norway
Luigi Badalucco - University Palermo; Italy
Basile Angelo - CNR- ISAFoM, Italy
Anna Benedetti - CRA - RPS Roma; Italy
Pavol Bielek - Slovak University of Agriculture; Slovakia
Eleonora Bonifacio - University Torino; Italy
Andrea Buondonno - University SUN; Italy
Stefano Carnicelli - University Florence; Italy
Luciano Cavani - University Bologna; Italy
Luisella Celi - University Torino; Italy
Pierluigi Claps - Politecnico di Torino; Italy
Claudio Colombo - University Campobasso; Italy
Giuseppe Corti - University Ancona, Italy
Edoardo Costantini - Director CRA-ABP; Italy
Maria De Nobili - University Udine; Italy
Maria Teresa Dell'Abate - CRA - RPS Roma; Italy
Rosa Francaviglia - CRA - RPS Roma; Italy
Stefano Grego - University Tuscia, Italy
Beata Houšková - Soil Science and Conservation Research Institute; National Agricultural and Food Centre Slovakia
Selim Kapur - University of Adana, Turkey
Aldis Karklins - Latvia University of Agriculture, Latvia
G. Lopapa - University Palermo; Italy
Donatello Magaldi - formerly at University of Florence; Italy
Fiorenzo Mancini - formerly at University of Florence; Italy
Sara Marinari - University Tuscia, Italy
Teodoro Miano - University Bari; Italy
Paolo Pileri - Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Roberto Pinton - University of Udine, Italy
Svetla Rousseva - Institute of Soil Science, Agrotechnology and Plant Protection "N. Poushkarov", Bulgaria
José Luis Rubio - Department of Soil Degradation and Soil Conservation, CIDE-CSIC, Valencia, Spain
Riccardo Scalenghe - University Palermo; Italy
Peter Schad - Technische Universität Mänchen; Germany
Marco Trevisan - University Cattolica of Piacenza, Italy
S. Vingiani - University Napoli Federico II, Italy
Borut VRŠCAJ - Department for Agroecology and Natural Resources; Agricultural Institute of Slovenia
Claudio Zaccone - University Foggia; Italy
Ermanno Zanini - University Torino; Italy
Pandi Zdruli - International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM); Italy
Ewart A Fitzpatrick - Retired Senior Lecturer University of Aberdeen; United Kingdom