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H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

I S S U E S E V E N

215

B I O D I V E R S I T Y

Biodiversity Strategy

The targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to

2020 address the main drivers of biodiversity

loss. The Commission sees the strategy as

reducing the main pressures on Nature and

ecosystem services in the EU by anchoring

biodiversity objectives in key sectoral policies.

By the end of the decade, the Union is expected

to meet six targets, namely ‘fully implement the

Birds and Habitats Directives’, ‘maintain and

restore ecosystems and their services’, and

‘increase the contribution of agriculture and

forestry to biodiversity’.

The final three objectives are ‘ensure the

sustainable use of fisheries resources’, ‘combat

IAS’, and ‘step-up action to tackle the global

biodiversity crisis’. The Commission cites the

importance of financial resources, engaging

with key stakeholders, and co-ordination at

regional, national and supranational levels to

implement the strategy.

Committee views

After profound work, the Parliament’s

Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

(ENVI) Committee adopted its position in

January 2014 on the proposed ‘regulation on

the prevention and management of the

introduction and spread of IAS’. The committee

decided on and provided a negotiating mandate

to begin talks with the Greek Council

Presidency and the European Commission to

ensure negotiations could be completed before

the end of the legislative term.

Key amendments adopted by the ENVI

Committee aimed not only to remove the

proposed cap of 50 IAS to be put on a Union

list of concern, but also other, more important

measures. Changes proposed include: how to

tackle the inclusion of IAS that are native to a

part of the Union but invasive to another on the

Union list; how to approach IAS incapable of

forming viable populations in some regions if

EU member states should be allowed to set

priorities in line with the conditions in their

E

urope is now halfway towards the main EU target of ‘halting the

loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services’

by 2020. However, this remains a serious challenge, with the

uropean Environment Agency indicating in its 2015 report on the state

and outlook of the environment that the EU is unlikely to meet its main

2020 biodiversity targets.

Recent data shows that 60% of species assessments and 77% of habitat

assessments continue to be in unfavourable conservation status.

Constant habitat loss, diffuse pollution, the overexploitation of resources,

and the growing impact of climate change contribute cumulatively. After

the habitat loss, invasive alien species (IAS) are the second most

significant threat to biodiversity and the major cause of species

extinctions. Some invasive species can cause health problems, for

example asthma or allergies, whilst others damage infrastructure, reduce

the value of land and water, hamper forestry or lead to agricultural losses.

IAS are estimated to cost the Union at least €12bn annually, with damage

costs continuing to increase. In 2014, the European Parliament and the

Council of the European Union passed an ambitious legislative framework

on regulating IAS in the EU. If implemented and executed in practice,

this legislation could be a crucial step to fulfil one of the six targets

covered by the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy. The Commission’s 2013

legislative proposal for a ‘regulation on the prevention and management

of the introduction and spread of IAS’ established a good framework for

action to tackle IAS in the Union, but there are still several aspects that

need to be further developed.

Stop the invaders

In an editorial for

Portal, Pavel Poc

MEP details the EU’s regulation to combat

invasive alien species and how the legislation could help the Union meet key

biodiversity targets

Pavel Poc MEP

The introduction of the

American grey squirrel

has had a significant

impact on the

population of the

European native

red squirrel