Thank you very much for the invitation to speak here today. It is a privilege to speak in Cambridge and a challenge to address the subject of sustainable soil and nutrient management albeit from the EU policy perspective to this international audience.
I would like to divide my presentation into five parts while still remaining within your tight time schedule. These are a general look at changing EU agriculture, at what we are achieving and trying to achieve in environmental integration into agriculture, the changing shape of agricultural policy from the environmental perspective, where we are with our reflections within the Commission services on the forthcoming thematic strategy for the protection of soil and finally what do we seek to achieve through rural development. On soil, you will, I trust, treat my remarks with caution as, while we have completed a great deal of work on the subject, the Commission has yet to decide on its proposals.
I want to confine my conclusions to soil issues as this reflects the theme of the meeting. We see importance in addressing the following areas in the coming decade for the benefit of the environment.
# Finding a means to economically address manure issues particularly in surplus areas;
# Increasing farmer knowledge and best use of manures in crop and grass production;
# A comprehensive recognition of soil protection issues at political, administrative and user level;
# The development of strategies to protect soil and enhance its potential in agricultural production;
# Further examination of climate change/soil issues to ensure it can play its full role in this area.
Michael Hamell, Directorate General for the Environment, European Commission, Rue de la Loi 200, B-1049 Brussels, Belgium.