Sustainable Use of Land and Nature-Based Solutions is a multi-dimensional matter, and in Europe, we do not have specific legislation addressing it. Furthermore, the SPIRE project considers not only environmental matters but also territorial and socio-economic dynamics and those related to health.
The SPIRE team has undertaken an in-depth analysis  of the European and Romanian (regional and local) legislation to develop a systemic framework, aiming to become a leading and replicable model.
The project identifies five policy domains: Environment and Climate Change, Industrial and Energy, Social and Employment, Public Health and Well-being, and Research and Innovation.
Figure 4. SPIRE policy domains. Source: Leopa, S. (2020). Standards and Key Performance Indicators for Smart Post-Industrial Regenerative Ecosystems.
Different policies and legal frameworks focus on several areas in which the EU and the Member States share or provide supporting competencies. These areas are environmental protection and climate change, circular economy and digital transition, and sustainable energy production and use.
The subjects related to social, health, employment, and innovation policies are guided by initiatives and plans that inform national legislation without the transposition of directives.
 This section has been built fundamentally upon: (Leopa, S. (2020). Standards and Key Performance Indicators for Smart Post-Industrial Regenerative Ecosystems. SPIRE - Smart Post-Industrial Regenerative Ecosystem, Technical Report D4.3.2, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.33583.56481)
2.2.1 Environment and Climate Change policy
Climate action is an explicit objective of the EU Environmental Policy in alignment with the Paris Agreement for implementation and the EU’s Emissions Trade System (EU ETS).
Besides the long-term vision of the 7th Environmental Action Programme guidelines for 2050, with (1) Natural capital, (2) Resource-efficient economy, and (3) Healthy environment for healthy people as priority areas, the EU Policy for Climate and Energy 2030 presents several other targets, all of them aligned with SPIRE project:
- A 40% reduction below the 1990 level in EU greenhouse emissions by 2030 (through domestic measures alone).
- A 27% increase in renewable energy sharing.
- KPIs to support improvement of energy efficiency for competitiveness, energy supply security, and sustainability.
At the National level, the GEO no. 195/2005 approved by Law no. 265/2006 has a chapter dedicated to soil and subsoil protection, which stipulates landowners and users' obligation to bring the land to a state to be reusable in the future.
Several Government Decisions and Romanian laws address different matters related to Environment and Climate Change, as (1) Sustainable Use of Land, (2) Soil protection, and (3) Clean Air and Water.
Sustainable Use of Land
The “Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe” (2011) sets the goal of zero land take by 2050.
Linked to Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Seveso-III-Directive (2012/18/EU) targets major accident risk reduction with a specific focus on risk mitigation by land-use planning.
The SLU and NBS Partnership Action Plan (2018) is aligned with the Urban Agenda for the EU. Two Actions of the Plan apply to SPIRE: (A No.2) Funding and financing guide for brownfield development and (A No.9) agreeing on common targets and indicators for NBS, urban green infrastructure, biodiversity, and ecosystem services in cities.
- At the Metropolitan level, some strategies have been developed, such as (1) the Baia Mare Metropolitan Area Development Strategy 2010 – 2020 (MADS), (2) the Integrated Territorial Strategy for the Metropolitan Area of Baia Mare (ITS), and (3) the Land Use Policy for the Metropolitan Area (LUP), developed as part of the USE ACT project under the URBACT II framework.
- At the Municipal level, the reference documents are the Integrated Urban Development Strategy (IUDS), the General Urban Plan (GUP), and the Local Urban Regulation (LUR).
Soil protection. HM and soil pollution
There is no specific legislation in Europe regarding soil protection, even if this priority is recognized in the 7th Environmental Action Programme. In EU COM (2006) 231, the main threat to soil quality were determined, including contamination and soil biodiversity loss.
In Europe, soil does not benefit from the same detailed regulations against pollution as water, air, or biodiversity. Therefore, soil protection is indirectly enforced at the European level through secondary laws such as the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (2011) and its further amendments, regulating HM soil pollution to protect plant products and activities.
Figure 5. Directive 278 /1986 limit values of HM concentration in soil (only information of this type in the European legislation). Source: EurLEx
- At the National level the Law no. 74 of 25 April 2019 determines that the National Environmental Protection Agency shall assign a risk score to each site included in the national list of contaminated sites to carry out remediation projects.
- The Government Decision GD 683/2015 concerns the National Strategy and the Plan for the Management of Contaminated Sites in Romania, aiming to eliminate or limit (potential) risks to human health and the environment. The strategy identifies a set of environmental, socio-economic, and technical objectives directed at the decontamination of soils, economic and social development goals, and the promotion of the principle of subsidiarity.
- The Government Decision GD 1408/19.11.2017 and GD 1403 / 19.11.2017 create a distinction between potentially contaminated and contaminated sites. There must be an updating process focused on adapting these criteria. This differentiation is based on the evaluation of analytical results. Human and environmental risks need to be considered when selecting appropriate remediation strategies.
Clean Air, Clean Water and HM pollution
The Cleaner Air for Europe (CAFÉ) DIRECTIVE 2008/50/EC and the EU COM (2018) 330 provide a robust framework to establish air quality objectives in Europe.
Regarding HM air pollutants and industrial activities, the Directive 2010/75/EU includes air emission limit values for waste incineration plants and co-incineration, and the Regulation 2004/107/EC contains indicators associated with arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The atmospheric pollutants in ambient air concentrations are measured according to the Romanian Law no. 104/2011, Order no.592/2002, and Air Quality Directives (EU, 2004, 2008).
Regarding water, we count on several Directives: 105/2008/EC, 118/2006/EC, and 60/2000/EC, which establish a framework for Community Action related to water quality and another framework for HM water pollutants.
- In Romania, the Government Decision no. 683/2015 on the Approval of the National Strategy and the Plan for the Management of Contaminated Sites in Romania, and the Maramures County Local Environmental Action Plan (LAMP-2013) refers to soil and groundwater contamination at the national and regional level.
The provisions of the national framework are aligned with SPIRE’s phytoremediation strategy. It provides a cost-effective NBS remediation solution to contaminated soils and includes new socio-economic goals and citizen participation in development plans.
2.2.2 Industrial and Energy policy
The new European industry strategy (COM/2020/102) was presented in 2020 to transition towards climate neutrality and digital leadership, enhancing industrial competitiveness and strategic autonomy.
Efficient and sustainable energy use
In alignment with the EU’s Paris Agreement (2015), several Directives related to Energy Performance of Buildings, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency were developed ((EU) 2018/844, 2018/2001, and 2018/2002).
Updated thresholds for greenhouse emissions were proposed for biofuels (transport and bioliquids), soil and gaseous biomass (heat and power), and woodchips from short rotation coppice. Minimum energy performance requirements have been combined with certifications, ongoing constraints, and incentives hand in hand to improve the current data.
- A 27,9% as the target (national) for renewable energy by 2030, rising to 30.5% by a revised National Integrated Climate Change-Energy Plan, under development.
- A 32.5% as the target for energy efficiency by 2030, encouraging public bodies to adopt integrated and sustainable energy efficiency plans and involve citizens in the process.
- The legal transposition Law no. 121/2014 has not been transposed yet. The Romanian Energy Strategy 2016-2030 sets an annual target of thermal rehabilitation of at least 3% of public buildings' overall number.
- At the local level, the Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) is the primary reference for SPIRE's actions.
Waste management, brownfield recovery and the circular economy
Regarding landfills, the European Landfill Directive (LD) 1999/31/EC highlights these facilities' space requirements. The Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC introduces the “polluter pays” principle and “waste hierarchy” (waste prevention, re-use, recycling, and recovery):
- A target of 50% of household waste and 70% of demolition and construction waste being recycled by 2030. This measure complements the differentiated collection systems that most European cities have put in place in the last 20 years.
At the national level, the transposition comes with Law no. 211/2011, with several strategy documents (National Waste Management Strategy and National Waste Management Plan among others) as necessary tools to set some targets that affect the SPIRE project:
- 50% (of recyclable waste) preparation for reuse and recycling of municipal waste by 2020
- 50% (of municipal waste) preparation for reuse and recycling of municipal waste by 2025
- 35% (of 1995 levels) decrease of municipal biodegradable waste stored by 2020.
- 15% increase of the degree of energy recovery by 2025.
- The National Strategy and Action Plan for the Management of Contaminated Sites (2014) identifies 1183 potentially contaminated sites and 210 contaminated sites. The target is the complete remediation of all the 1193 sites. The mid-term target proposed by 2020 has not been achieved.
The estimated cost for the risk assessment of these sites amounts to a total of €8.409 billion. There is an urgent need to find alternatives, as the one's SPIRE project presents.
Industrial policy and bio-based building materials
The Eco-Design Directive (2009/125/EC) provides rules for improving products' environmental performance. The Construction Products Regulation (EU) 305/2011 lays down standardized conditions for the marketing of construction products.
The European industrial policy supports the transformation of EU energy-intensive industries to climate-neutral and circular ones by 2050. It includes the need to empower citizens with skills and advanced technologies to achieve the goal.
2.2.3 Social policy and employment
The New Skills Agenda (2016) and the Resolution 2018/C 456/01 derived from EU Strategy for Youth 2019-2027 aim to ensure the EU develops adequate training and skills, as well as deliver services aimed at improving mental health and wellbeing, providing quality employment, and implementing learning support for the youth.
The European Employment Strategy (EES, 1997) constitutes part of the Europe 2020 growth strategy, with periodical reports in Romania.
2.2.4 Public Health and wellbeing
The Third Health Programme (2014-2020) has been succeeded by EU4Healt 21-27, which is focused on urgent health priorities as Covid-19, cancer, antimicrobial-resistant infections, and vaccination rate improvements. It is a cross cutting policy, from the Zero Pollution Action Plan (COM (2029)640) to Farm to Fork strategy (COM (2020)381).
The Horizon-Europe Programme has cancer as its second mission area, and the word “healthy” is referring to water and soil (fourth and fifth missions)
2.2.5 Research and Innovation
The research and innovation Horizon-Europe Programme, currently in place, is the Horizon 2020 framework's successor, supported by the COM (2012) 497 and the Treaty of Lisbon. It proposes five mission areas, with 1,2,3 and 5 directly involving the SPIRE project: (1) Adaptation to climate change including societal transformation; (2) Cancer; (3) Climate-neutral and smart cities; (4) Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters; and (5) Soil health and food.
Regulations across Europe about the creation and usage of local currencies are highly different regarding their issuing and use, often depending on their form. In Romania, only the National Bank can print money. However, specific laws enable the circulation of electronic currencies, in certain conditions, while virtual currencies are unregulated
The immaterial Local Environmental Utility (iLEU)
within the SPIRE project represents a reward system for environmentally friendly activities based on blockchain technologies. It develops the systemic change needed by working in the interdependencies between the local community, locally owned businesses, training and education programs, innovation and new technologies, and environmental behavior
iLEU reward system has encountered several legal barriers in its implementation due to the system's innovative nature. It highlights the need for culture-shifting towards RESILIENCE, not only in citizens' environmental behavior but also in legal frameworks and procedures. Only by allowing ourselves and our procedures to be adaptable, reflexive, and transformative will these groundbreaking initiatives be able to occur.
 Verga P. L. (ed.), Onesciuc N., Mihaiescu T., Plesa A., Vajda B., Sebestyen T., Pop S., Ghise C. R., Ghise C. I., Pop A. M., 2020 SPIRE Baia Mare: State of the Art / Innovation Landscape Report. Bioflux Publishing House, Cluj-Napoca. Online edition, ISBN 978-606-8887-73-9
 SPIRE (2020), D.5.2.1, iLEU whitepaper. Available at: http://spire.city