The European Commission has proposed rules to combat the estimated €12 billion of damage caused every year to EU farming and infrastructure by invasive animal and plant species.
The EU executive estimates that there are over 12,000 species in the European Union which are alien to the natural environment. With 15% of these growing in number, this has significant implications for the EU’s biodiversity and economy, the Commission says.
The coypu, a large semi-aquatic rodent originally native to South America, has devastated crops agricultural yields in rural France. With few natural enemies in Europe the number of so-called river rats was increasing. But in France, as it most European countries, it is considered a pest and authorities have taken steps to eradicate it.
But these efforts are undermined if a bordering member state does not carry out the same eradication measures. The government’s attempt to rid Belgium of the Giant hogweed, a weed which affects crop production by out-competing other plants for light, will prove futile if it reinvades from France.
“Combating invasive alien species is a prime example of an area where Europe is better when working together,” said Janez Poto?nik, the EU environment commissioner.
The EU executive plans to draw up a list of 50 of the EU's most threatening species to target and harmonise eradication effort across the European Union.
“The legislation we are proposing will help protect biodiversity and is targeted to allow us to focus on the most serious threats. This will help improve the effectiveness of national measures and achieve results in the most cost-effective way,” the commissioner said.
The rules will focus on prevention, spotting pathways for alien species such as contaminated goods.