European Parliament adopts legislation to tackle invasive alien species at EU level

The European Parliament today adopted legislative plans to prevent the introduction and manage the spread in the EU of invasive alien species (IAS) of plants, animals or insects that cause ecological and economic damage. The legislation aims to tackle the threat through better, more coordinated action by member states, and provides for a ban on species declared to be of “Union concern”.

The American red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) is a freshwater turtle usually sold as a pet, and now introduced in several European countries where it represents an ecological threat for the indigenous fauna and flora.

"This new regulation is an important step towards strengthened action to protect the EU against the devastating impacts of invasive alien species on its biodiversity and economy. Among other positive elements, we welcome the removal  of the cap of 50 species of EU concern. On the other hand, the negotiated outcome has not met all of IUCN’s asks, such as the full inclusion of species that are native in some parts of Europe and invasive in others, and remaining openings for derogations,” said Luc Bas, Director of IUCN’s Brussels office. “The challenge now is implementation and IUCN looks forward to providing scientific expertise through our broad network in the coming years.”

The parliamentary report also insists on the establishment of a dedicated scientific forum to advise on the scientific aspects of enforcing the new rules, a move welcomed by IUCN. “The scientific community has long called for a more science-based approach to tackle invasive alien species in Europe, and we thus welcome EP’s strong stance on establishing a scientific forum,” said Piero Genovesi, Chair IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group and Senior Scientist at ISPRA. “Also, the design of the regulation is very much in line with the decisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on invasive species, and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which IUCN considers key tools for halting the global biodiversity loss.”

According to the European Commission, invasive alien species are a major and growing cause of biodiversity loss and species extinction. They can cause health problems, damage infrastructure and facilities, hamper forestry or cause agricultural losses. Invasive species are estimated to cost the Union at least € 12 billion per year.

The draft legislation is already informally agreed with EU ministers and is scheduled to be formally adopted by Member States in May. It would require EU member states to ascertain the routes of introduction and spread of invasive alien species and set up surveillance systems and action plans. Official checks at EU borders would also be stepped up. For widespread invasive alien species, members states would have to draw up management plans.

"Efforts to minimise the impact of invasive alien species will now be coherent across the EU member states and there will be better co-ordination, which means that the overall effectiveness will be improved. Early warning and rapid response systems will help the member states to reduce the costs and further prevent the negative impacts related to new invasions,” said MEP Pavel Poc, author of the parliamentary report.

Work area: 
Invasive species
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