Of the 12.000 alien species present in Europe, about 15% is invasive and the number grows rapidly. The European Commission designed a proposal in response to the different problems arising from this.
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);
Disturbing forest ecosystems
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.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said: “Combating invasive alien species is a prime example of an area where Europe is better when working together. 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. I look forward to working with Member States and the European Parliament to put this legislation in place and step up our efforts to tackle this serious problem right across Europe.”
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