Some non-native animals, plants and micro-organisms can pose a serious threat to European flora and fauna, and disrupt fragile ecosystems. These so-called invasive alien species are considered to be the biggest threat to global biological diversity after habitat loss, and a leading cause of species extinction. More than a quarter of European native species which have been identified as critically endangered are under threat from invasive species.
These unwelcome visitors can also transmit diseases to people, decimate crops and damage infrastructure.
The bill associated with invasive species in the European Union (EU), for repairing damage, for medical treatment, as well as for control measures to reduce their impact, is conservatively estimated to be at least €12 billion per year. Environmentalists and politicians have called for action to address this ecological, economic and social threat.
While all Member States are affected, for the moment each takes its own distinct approach to dealing with the problem. In September 2013, the European Commission proposed a more harmonised approach. Under the proposal there would be a ban on the import, sale, growing, use or release of selected species in the EU.