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Environment: New EU Action to protect biodiversity against problematic invasive species

EU News 392/2013

Brussels, 9 September 2013

The European Commission today proposed new legislation to prevent and manage the rapidly growing threat from invasive species. There are currently over 12 000 species present in Europe which are alien to the natural environment. About 15% of these are invasive and they are rapidly growing in number. The proposal is designed to respond to increasing problems caused by these invasive alien species, which include:

- An economic problem: invasive alien species cause damage worth at least EUR 12 billion every year in Europe, through hazards to human health (e.g. the Asian hornet and tiger mosquito, whose effects can be fatal), damage to infrastructure (e.g. Japanese knotweed damaging buildings) and yield losses in agriculture (e.g. the coypu, which harms crops);

- An ecological problem: invasive alien species can seriously damage ecosystems and cause extinctions of species which are needed to maintain the balance of our natural environment. Black cherry for example is seriously disturbing forest ecosystems and grey squirrels are outcompeting red squirrels. After habitat loss, invasive alien species are the second largest cause of biodiversity loss in the world;

- A policy problem: many Member States are already having to spend considerable resources in dealing with this problem, but their efforts are not effective if they are dealt with purely on a national basis.  The Giant hogweed eradication campaign in Belgium, for example, will be undermined if the species reinvades from France.

Source and additional information: 

Janez Potočnik Date: 09/09/2013 Reference: P-023909/00-04 (C)EU, 2013 URL