INTERVIEW with MEP Poc: EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species

03 October 2013 | Article

MEP Pavel Poc (Group of Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats) is a member of the ENVI (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) Committee at the European Parliament and has recently been nominated as the Rapporteur for the proposed Invasive Alien Species Regulation.

Q: The European Commission has recently tabled its long-awaited proposal for a Regulation on Invasive Alien Species (IAS). What are the strong points of this proposal from your point of view?

The strongest point is the very fact that this legislation was even tabled. The proposal is properly focused on prevention, early monitoring and fast eradication in Member States. Also there is good basis for future cooperation and coordination, including a mechanism for data sharing, or, if you like, IT support. I also appreciate the note on involving the public. All the points should be further strenghtened.

Q: More than 1,500 invasives cause negative impacts in Europe. Yet the legislation, as it stands now, will only take action on 50 of these with no revision before 5 years. What is your opinion about this?

I refuse any capping on the list of IAS of European Union or national concern. The number itself is curious, why 50? Why not 67 or 34? When all 50 positions on the list are occupied and a brand new invader is revealed, how do we act? We evaluate for a few years which invader is less harmful and then remove another one to leave space on the list? And of course, such capping always provokes the tendency for the list to be closed, which can lead to pressure for putting species on the list without a real serious reason, for example for better chance to get some subsidy or something like that.

Q: Many organizations, like IUCN, and research institutes have long studied the spread of invasive alien species in Europe, and hold extensive and up to date knowledge on the impacts of invasions. How do you see the involvement of such organizations in the process of adoption of the Regulation?

I suppose the Commission involved those organizations in the process of preparation of the proposal. We are at the very beginning of the whole legislative procedure and I do not have much information about whether their opinions were reflected in the proposal. I, of course, want to cooperate with all stakeholders, including IUCN, during the discussions in the European Parliament. We will need broad support not only for the Parliament’s adoption of the Regulation, but later on for its implementation in the Member States. Without broad consensus, we will lose before we have even started. There needs to be good and swift cooperation. There is little time left, as the proposal was so terribly late.

Q: Adequate financial resources are crucial for the effective implementation of the Regulation, especially for emergency actions. How can funding for the measures foreseen by the Regulation be secured at EU and Member State level?

For any EU legislation there has to be adequate financing in the EU budget. Of course we live in times of financial cuts, but I believe that the Member States are reasonable enough to understand that it is better to solve this problem now, as it is cheaper. As for Member States, most of them actually spend money to deal with problems related to invasive species already. Thus the better coordination across the EU there is, the more money the EU can save for Member States. For what concerns administrative exercises, the objectives described in the proposal can easily be fulfilled by existing administrations in the Member States. There is no need for any new bureacracy, but rather for better cooperation with the scientific and non-governmental sector.