EU legislative proposal to tackle invasive alien species is here
By Caroline Jacobsson, Mon, 09/09/2013 - 10:57
Today the European Commission published its long-awaited legislative proposal on Invasive Alien Species (IAS), which aims to tackle the negative impacts that organisms introduced by people outside their natural range have on biodiversity, the economy and human health. This is the first piece of EU legislation relating to biodiversity to be proposed by the European Institutions for almost two decades, and it is a promising step forward.
IAS are one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss globally, and can also affect human health, as well as cause serious economic damage. In the EU alone, the economic cost of the damage caused by IAS has been calculated to be at least €12 billion annually.
Dr Paul Walton, Head of Habitats and Species at RSPB Scotland (BirdLife in the UK) said: “IAS can only be tackled successfully through a flexible, precautionary approach. Our ability to predict which species will cause problems, and where, will always be incomplete. Therefore, the proposed cap of 50 IAS species for action, with a review of that list possible only after 5 years, is a serious shortcoming in the proposal.” He continued “There are at least 1,500 Invasive Alien Species present already in the EU, and that number is increasing fast. We need a responsive system that allows us to act decisively as new species arrive. This will include the introduction and enforcement of a general ban on the deliberate release of invasive non-native species into the environment, and a flexible listing system for problem species – only this makes financial and ecological sense."
Alistair Taylor, EU Biodiversity Policy Officer at the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) stated “Although the polluter-pays principle is enshrined in the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU, the Commission’s IAS legislative proposal does not include any ‘introducer liability’ for those who deliberately introduce IAS into the wild. Additional measures like this must be adopted or the costs of IAS for Europe’s biodiversity and European taxpayers will continue to rise.”
The European Parliament and Council now have an important role to play in improving the Commission’s proposal and adopting effective legislation, introducing an adequate listing system and including the precautionary principle (3) and polluter-pays principle. A general ban on the deliberate release of invasive alien species across the EU is essential if we are to safeguard Europe’s biodiversity and the health of its citizens and reduce the economic costs of IAS.
Note: Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, Article 191: Union policy on the environment shall aim at a high level of protection taking into account the diversity of situations in the various regions of the Union. It shall be based on the precautionary principle and on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay. Resources:
For more information please contact:
Dr Paul Walton, Head of Habitats and Species, RSPB Scotland (BirdLife in the UK) – email: email@example.com, phone: +44 (0) 131 317 4100 or: +44 (0) 141 331 0993, mobile: 07979 240 857
Alistair Taylor, EU Biodiversity Policy Officer, RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) - email: Alistair.Taylor@rspb.org.uk, phone: +44 (0) 1767 693450 (direct dial), mobile: +44 (0) 7595 09 22
Carles Carboneras, Species Policy Officer - Invasive Non-native Species, RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) – email: Carles.Carboneras@rspb.org.uk, phone: +44 (0)1767 693234, mobile +44 (0)7718 423273
Photographic and campaign material: Caroline Jacobsson, Head of Communications & Marketing, BirdLife Europe - email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +32 (0)2 238 50 94