The European Parliament today voted to accept a Regulation to draw up a blacklist of the most damaging invasive alien species (IAS) in the EU, in an effort to tighten and coordinate controls within Member States to prevent the spreading of such IAS. The Regulation, which provides for a ban on species declared to be of ‘Union concern’, will now be sent to the Council of Ministers for formal approval. The JRC’s European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN) will be the information support mechanism of the new Regulation.
IAS of plants, animals and insects are a major and growing cause of biodiversity loss and species extinction. They are the second biggest threat to native biodiversity and ecosystem services (after habitat destruction). They can be vectors of diseases or themselves cause health problems such as asthma, dermatitis and allergies. They can also damage infrastructure and facilities, hamper forestry and cause agricultural losses. IAS cost the EU an estimated €12 billion per year.
The Regulation, the first strongly binding piece of EU legislation regarding biodiversity, requires that EU Member States analyse the pathways of introduction and spread of IAS, and set up surveillance systems (particularly at EU borders) and action plans to manage priority pathways and limit new introductions of alien species. Species deemed to be of “Union concern” would be placed on a list of those that should not be introduced, transported, placed on the market, offered, kept, grown or released into the environment. Priority on the list would go to IAS which are expected to become a problem and those that cause the most damage.
The JRC launched the European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN) in September 2012. The first network of its kind in Europe, EASIN is designed to improve access to data and information regarding alien species in Europe. It allows users to explore information on the more than 15,000 alien species currently reported from over 40 distributed online resources through a network of interoperable web services, following internationally recognised standards and protocols. It provides a number of tools and services, such as widgets for the creation of INSPIRE-compliant distribution maps. EASIN continuously updates its links to original data providers, a literature database or relevant publications, the EASIN catalogue and factsheets. An Early Warning and Rapid Response system allowing Member States to automatically report and quickly distribute information on new IAS in Europe is currently under development, in support of the implementation of the new Regulation.
EASIN is developed and maintained by the JRC, and is supported by DG Environment.
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