Union list on Invasive Alien Species adopted by Commission
On 13 July the European Commission adopted the very first Union list of Invasive Alien Species (IAS). The list contains 37 species, which are foreseen to cause damage on a scale that justifies dedicated measures across the Union. The list has not been changed compared to the Union list of Invasive Alien Species that was approved on 4 December 2015 by a Committee of Member State representatives, but which up to now was not adopted by the Commission. This list does not contain any tree species.

The Regulation on Invasive Alien Species (1143/2014), which came into force on 1 January 2015, centres about the list of IAS of Union concern. The Regulation sets out the restrictions and measures that will now apply to the species on the Union list, when it enters into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, foreseen for the second week of August. 

Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs said: “This first list, generated with the help of Member States, will be kept under review and work is already ongoing currently to update the list to consider other strong cases."

The list will be updated regularly to include further species likely to have significant impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems. According to Article 4(2) of the Regulation, the Commission should undertake a comprehensive review of the Union list at least every six years and in the meantime, update it, as appropriate.

The Commission is currently working on a second list which will complement the first one. Contrary to the first list in which are no tree species included, the second list considers species of high environmental and socio-economic value such as ash leaf maple (Acer negundo), but also the tree species Acacia dealbata and Prunus campanulata. The inclusion of these species remains doubtful and the adverse impact of the species on biodiversity has not been proven sufficiently.

The Commission has come under fire for failing to adopt delegated acts, specifying the criteria to include relevant species in the list of Union concern and the methodology to be applied in the risk assessment. According to Article 5(3) of the Regulation, the Commission is empowered to adopt delegated acts to further specify the type of evidence acceptable for the purpose of same criteria for the inclusion of IAS and the risk assessment. Until now, the Commission has not adopted any delegated acts on this issue.

Due to the lack of delegated acts, a requirement to approve such a list, as well as due to the inconsistencies in the list regarding the common criteria fixed in the Regulation, there are still valid reasons for criticism – also from a forest owners’ perspective.

For further information, please refer to the European Commission webpage.