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Use of Phosphorus and its resource availability

Phosphorus is one of the essential nutrients for plants, animals and humans - to put it simply without phosphorus, life would not exist. Within plants, P is essential to cell development and structure, reproductive and enzyme balance and within animals for bone development, cell structure, reproduction etc. There is no substitute for P, and there never will be.

Consultative Communication on sustainable use of Phosphorus

The Commission launched on 8 July 2013 a consultation on how to use phosphorus in a more sustainable way (the official press release can be found here). Phosphorus is widely used in agriculture and is an essential component in fertiliser and feed, but it is a non-renewable resource. Supplies are limited and much phosphorus is currently wasted, creating concerns about future supplies in the EU and worldwide.

The Consultative Communication on the Sustainable Use of Phosphorus (COM(2013)517)  asked how to ensure that reserves are available for future generations, and about ways to minimize the undesirable side effects phosphorus use can have on the environment.

The consultation closed on 31 December 2013 and received 125 replies from a wide range of stakeholders. The summary of the 125 responses has been published as a Commission Staff Working Document (SWD(2014)263) on 1 August 2014.

All the responses submitted during the consultation are available here in their original language.

PREVIOUS ACTIVITY

European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference 2013 (6-7 March 2013)

In March 2013 a number of European partners, including the European Commission organised the first European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference in Brussels.

Commissioner Potočnik opened the second day.

Phosphorus Platform

As a follow up to the conference, the European Phosphorus Platform was set up.

One of Europe’s mayor challenges in the 21st century is the availability of the irreplaceable natural resource phosphorus. Phosphorus is essential for our worldwide food security. It can and should be treated in more sustainable ways.

This platform has been initiated by partners throughout the European Phosphate Value Chain. It aims to secure phosphorus for future generations.

One of the organisers of the platform has also produced some informative clips:

Green Week 2011 -- Resource Efficiency – using less, living better (24-27 May 2011)

The future of Phosphorus - an uncertain road?

  • Phosphate: towards integrated consumption (C. Pallière)
  • Is phosphorus an issue? (Dr. J. Schröder)
  • The globe needs sustainable solutions for phosphorus recycling (DR. L. Stoumann Jensen)
  • The future of phosphorus (B. Eickhout)

In light of the above, DG Environment over the past years was collecting a number of information related to this topic. Particular, in 2005 DG Environment commissioned a study on 'Addressing phosphorus related problems at farm practice'.

In light of the very recent publications of scientific community and price volatility of P fertilizers, second study on Sustainable Use of Phosphorus was commissioned.