Member States are now required to take action within three years to address how these 37 alien species are introduced and spread. This may involve putting control measures in place to prevent them from being kept, sold, transported, reproduced, or released.
While this first list is too modest compared to the scale of the challenge as invasive alien species are one of the most important drivers of nature loss in the EU, it is still important that the EU has shown it is capable of taking action in an area where coordinated action across Europe is essential.
Invasive species can cause great damage to native species by competing with them for food, eating them, spreading diseases, causing genetic changes through inter-breeding and disrupting various aspects of the food chain and the physical environment. They can also pose a threat to human health and result in significant costs to the economy through damage to crops and infrastructure. In the EU, the socio-economic cost of IAS is an estimated 12 to 20 billion euros a year .
EEB Senior Policy Officer for Biodiversity, Leonardo Mazza, said:
“While the adoption of this list is a step in the right direction, far more species will have to be added to it before it can effectively tackle this major threat to Europe’s nature. Rather obvious species which can cause the extinction of native plants and animals have not yet been added, such as the American Mink. Plants like the Hottentot Fig, Black Cherry or Lantana which have the potential to dominate landscapes and exclude other life forms are notable for their absence. Problematic marine species like the Lionfish or the Comb Jelly are also missing.
“Such priority species must be added to the list as soon as possible. Without swift and decisive action, invasive alien species will only become an even greater and more costly problem.”