EU-wide plans to tackle invasive alien species

Jan. 30, 2014, European Parliament News Release:

Plans to ban invasive alien species, such as plants, animals or insects that can carry or cause diseases, harm the environment or cause economic losses, from entering the EU and to improve efforts to address the threat posed if they do spread through the EU were backed by environment MEPs on Thursday. Under the draft rules, species declared “of Union concern” would be banned.

“We achieved a good proposal on how to tackle invasive alien species to protect biodiversity and not endanger activities of European citizens at the same time,” said Pavel Poc (S&D, CZ), who is steering the legislation through Parliament. His report was adopted by 49 votes to 4, with 3 abstentions.

“The proposal will change during negotiations, but our red line is to ensure the feasibility of the final proposal and transparency throughout the process. Citizens and experts have to have their say when the target invasive species are defined and member states have to have the possibility to adapt the legislation for their bio-geographical conditions,” he added.

The new rules will require member states to carry out an analysis of the pathways of introduction and spread of invasive alien species (IAS) and set up surveillance systems and action plans. Official controls at EU borders will also be stepped up. For IAS that have spread widely, EU countries will have to draw up management plans.

Alien species of Union concern

Species deemed to be “of Union concern” must be identified on a list and banned from being introduced, transported, placed on the market, offered, kept, grown or released in the environment, MEPs say. They opposed capping the list of IAS to 50 species, insisting on an open list that can include species that are native to one part of the EU but invasive in another. The committee also introduced measures to tackle IAS that are of concern for individual member states.

EU countries will have to set appropriate penalties for breaching the rules. However, they will be able to establish a permit system allowing specialized establishments to breed certain invasive species, provided they are of high economic, social and environmental value.

Background

According to the European Commission, IAS are one of the major, and growing, causes of biodiversity loss and species extinction. IAS can also be vectors of diseases or directly cause health problems (e.g. asthma, dermatitis and allergies). They can damage infrastructure and facilities, hamper forestry or cause agricultural losses. IAS are estimated to cost the Union at least €12 billion per year.

Next steps

The committee voted by 46 votes to 7, with 1 abstention, to give, Mr Poc a mandate to start negotiations with the Greek presidency of the Council with a view to reaching agreement at reading.

Source: ISCBC Website

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