INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES OF UNION CONCERN
The EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species (N°1143/2014) centres around a so-called list of "IAS of Union concern". The list is dynamic and changes regularly, and an in-depth update should take place at least once every six years. Both the European Commission and the Member States can propose additional species for inclusion on the Union list. This proposal for inclusion is supported by a risk assessment, describing, among other things, the routes of introduction, the establishment potential, and the impact of the species on biodiversity and related ecosystem services as well as on human health, safety, and the economy. The risk assessments are then submitted to the Scientific Forum which is made up of representatives of the scientific community appointed by the Member States (in, Belgium, an expert from the Belgian Biodiversity Platform). The Scientific Forum provides an evaluation on whether the risk assessment is robust and fit for purpose, according to an agreed procedure and standards. Species proposals are then submitted to the IAS Committee, consisting of Member State representatives, which discuss the compliance of the proposed species with the criteria for listing defined under Article 4.3 of the IAS Regulation. Any update of the Union list is subject to the positive opinion of the IAS Committee, which votes by qualified majority vote.
More details on the process from proposal to eventual listing of a species can be found here.
For species of EU concern, the Regulation includes three distinct types of measures, taking a priority approach to IAS:
- Prevention: When considering costs and impacts, preventing the entry of IAS is always better than remedial measures once the species has entered the European Union. Therefore, the first pillar of the Regulation is prevention. It includes measures on the pathways through which IAS are being introduced and spread within the European Union, intentionally or unintentionally. For example, the Regulation bans the trade, use, transportation, breeding, possession and release of the listed species, although exceptions can be granted under very stringent conditions through an authorisation or permit system. Additionally, the Regulation requires each Member State to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the pathways of introduction and spread that are relevant for the Member State, in order to identify priority pathways. Action plans have to be subsequently prepared by Member States in order to implement concrete actions regarding these introduction pathways.
- Early warning and rapid response: The second pillar of the Regulation focuses on early detection and rapid eradication. Apart from official controls to identify and detect IAS of Union concern upon entry into the EU, Member States must establish a surveillance system to collect and record data on IAS of EU concern on their territory. Such surveillance must be set up in such a way that it can enable detection of the presence of a species as soon as possible after entry. When an IAS of Union concern is recorded for the first time in the territory or part of the territory of the Member State, or when the species re-appears, the European Commission and other Member States should be notified. The Member State concerned, has to take immediate action to eradicate the species. Derogations from this obligation can be granted if certain conditions are met.
- Management of widespread species: The final pillar of the Regulation deals with species that are already well established and widespread in the Member State and aims at minimising their impact on biodiversity, human health and the economy. To this end, each country has to put in place measures to eradicate, contain or control the populations of established species on their territory. In addition, Member States should take relevant measures to restore the habitats that have been damaged or destroyed by the presence of IAS.
Want to know more? Read this brochure on Invasive Alien Species, published by the European Commission.