Invasive species, threatening biodiversity in Europe

Invasive Alien

Invasive Alien Species

Invasive Alien Species are animals and plants that are introduced accidently or deliberately into a natural environment where they are not normally found. They represent a serious threat to native plants and animals in Europe, causing € millions worth of damage every year.

Recognising the increasingly serious problem of invasive alien species in Europe, the Commission is currently working on a dedicated legislative instrument on Invasive Alien Species which is due to be adopted in 2012.  This is one of six key objectives of the new EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy adopted in May 2011.

The process is run in an open and transparent manner.  All working material is accessible here. For further information or comments please mail:  ENV-BIODIVERSITY@ec.europa.eu

Commission Communication "Towards an EU Strategy on Invasive Species"

On 3 December 2008 the European Commission adopted a Communication presenting policy options for an EU Strategy on Invasive Species. The Communication examines the evidence regarding the ecological, economical and social impact of invasive species in Europe, analyses the effectiveness of the current legal situation for tackling this problem and describes 4 possible options for a future EU strategy.

The Commission Communication has since been discussed in various EU institutions:

The Environment Council adopted conclusions on the mid-term assessment of implementing the EU Biodiversity Action Plan (the 2008 Report) and Towards an EU Strategy on Invasive Alien Species

The Committee of the Regions adopted its opinion "A NEW IMPETUS FOR HALTING BIODIVERSITY LOSS".

The European Economic and Social Committee adopted its opinion on Towards an EU Strategy on Invasive Species.

newAssessment of existing policies on invasive alien species in EU Member States and selected OECD countries

This Commission funded study provides an overview of the existing policies on invasive alien species in the 27 EU Member States, as well as in four OECD countries - Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. The objective of this study was to screen the existing policies, measures and initiatives on invasive alien species taken at national level against a set of elements which need to be considered to ensure that the introduction of such species is prevented and/or their establishment in the EU territory is identified and controlled. Such screening exercise provides support to the European Commission in assessing the policy baseline.

The report includes two parts:

  • Final report - summarising the findings of the study
  • Country assessments - summarising the existing policies in each Member State and country considered.

An overview of the problem, possible policy options and their implications

Assessment to support continued development of the EU strategy to combat invasive alien species – November 2010

This Commission funded report presents a detailed analysis of the international, EU and Member State baseline and proposed priorities for action. It sets out a suggested outline for key components of the future  EU  Strategy  on  Invasive  Alien  Species,  covering  each  stage  of  the  risk  management sequence and drawing on existing best practices where available. The report also provides an initial assessment of the possible level / scale of costs associated with EU policy action on IAS.

Recommendations on policy options to minimise the negative impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity in Europe and the EU – September 2009

Other technical studies aimed at support the development of an EU strategy are list below. Their contents and views are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the European Commission.

  • Recommendations on policy options to minimise the negative impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity in Europe and the EU
  • Assessment of the impacts of invasive alien species in Europe and the EU
  • Policy options to minimise the negative impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity in Europe and the EU
  • Analysis of the impacts of policy options/measures to address IAS

Results of Public Consultation on YOUR VOICE "Invasive Alien Species - A European Concern" – May 2008

The recent public consultation on the problem of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) which ran from March until May, attracted 880 replies, three quarters of them from individuals.

The survey reveals widespread backing for action at EU level on invasive alien species:

  • Some 91% of respondents agreed on the urgent need to bring in new measures to prevent the spread of such organisms, with 85% agreeing on the importance of preventing the introduction of IAS in the wild.
  • An EU-wide early warning system would be welcomed by 90% of respondents, and 86% thought that Member States should be legally obliged to take action against the most harmful IAS.
  • Most respondents (90%) considered that the lack of public awareness would constitute a barrier to launching more stringent policies, and that it was therefore important to raise the profile of the issue (77%). 

The results of the consultation will now be used to help develop EU policy in this area, and inform the Communication from the Commission to be presented at the end of this year.

 Further background information

  1. Discussion Paper (paper developed jointly by Member State representatives, Stakeholders and Commission Services)
  2. A pan-European inventory of alien species: rationale, implementation and implications for managing biological invasions (deliverable of the RTD project DAISIE - Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe).




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