EU Commission sends 6 states to court for causing environmental damage
The European Commission refers Bulgaria, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Latvia, and Portugal to the EU Court of Justice for failing to implement several provisions on the prevention of the spread of invasive alien species.
The European Commission said on Thursday it would refer to the European Union Court of Justice cases of non-compliance with provisions on protecting the environment from invasive alien species by Bulgaria, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Latvia, and Portugal.
"The Commission decided today [on Thursday] to refer Bulgaria, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Latvia, and Portugal to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to implement various provisions of Regulation 1143/2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species," a statement read.
Invasive Alien Species (IAS) are plants and animals accidentally or deliberately introduced to an area where they are not normally found, the European Commission specified. Such species lead to biodiversity loss as they represent a major threat to native plants and animals, causing annual damage to the European economy estimated at 12 billion euros ($13 billion).
Bulgaria, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Latvia, and Portugal had not established, implemented, or submitted a plan of action to address the most important "pathways of introduction and spread of these invasive alien species," the European Commission added.
Moreover, Greece and Bulgaria have not yet created or incorporated an invasive alien species surveillance system, despite the deadline for implementing these actions having been set for January 2018.
The EU Regulation on IAS came into effect on January 2015. The list includes today 88 species of the bloc's concern, such as the water hyacinth, the Asian hornet, and the raccoon. The regulation obliges the EU member states to implement measures that prevent the introduction of these species into the union and detect the species and take quick eradication measures.
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It is worth noting that invasive alien species can lead to the extinction of local species, through competition for limited resources like food and habitats, inter-breeding, or the spread of disease.
Not only they can be a significant problem for human health, leading to serious allergies and acting as vectors for dangerous pathogens and diseases (transmission of disease to animals and humans by raccoons), but they can also alter how entire ecosystems function, compromising their ability to provide pollination, water regulation or flood control.