EU adopts innovative legislation on invasive species: a step towards a global response to biological invasions?
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Europe has adopted innovative legislation on invasive species that could signal a step-change in the global response to biological invasion threats. The discussion that took place within EU institutions—EU Parliament, European Commission, and the Member States—permitted significant improvement on the initial proposal presented by the European Commission, including removing the initial 50 species cap, explicitly allowing national authorities to take stringent measures on invasive species of national concern, and encouraging coordinated approaches to invasive species in boundary areas. An independent “Scientific Forum” to inform implementation has been introduced, and the EU Regulation will permit only limited licensing for specific activities using invasive alien species. However, the real strength of the legislation will largely depend on the decisions of a committee of representatives of the Member States, with the risk that the real enforcement will be limited by political and economic, rather than scientific, considerations. In this regard it will be crucial to set up a framework of roles and responsibilities among the different bodies that ensure transparent and objective decision processes. Also, it will be essential that adequate resources be secured for implementing the provisions of the legislation. Finally, the regulatory approach introduced by the Regulation will have only a limited impact unless European citizens raise their awareness of this threat and adopt more responsible behaviours.
KeywordsPolluter-pays Ecological impacts Pathways of introduction Invasive alien species Policy Prevention Risk assessment
Financial support to MV was provided by the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, through the Severo Ochoa Program for Centres of Excellence in R+D+I (SEV-2012-0262).
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