Greece referred to ECJ for failing to take action against alien species

Greece referred to ECJ for failing to take action against alien species

The European Commission decided Thursday to refer Greece and five more countries to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to implement provisions in the bloc’s regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species.

The five other countries referred to the ECJ are Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and Portugal.

Invasive alien species are plants and animals which are accidentally or deliberately introduced by man into areas out of their natural range of distribution. They can have a negative impact on biodiversity and the ecosystem of the host country, and by extension on the local communities that depend on their natural habitat. 

According to Commission data, the estimated damage caused by alien species costs the European economy 12 billion euros per year. 

The regulation – known as the Invasive Alien Species or IAS Regulation – came into force on January 1, 2015 and focuses on 88 species considered to be “of Union concern,” such as the water hyacinth and animals like the Asian hornet and the raccoon.

The Commission said that the six member-states did not establish, implement and communicate an action plan to address the most important pathways of introduction and spread of these invasive alien species.

It added that Greece and Bulgaria have not yet established a surveillance system of invasive alien species of EU concern, or included it in their existing system – despite the January 2018 deadline. 

More specifically, Greece does not have the structures in place to carry out the official controls necessary to prevent the intentional introduction of invasive alien species. 

Despite receiving a letter of formal notice in June 2021 and a reasoned opinion in February 2022, Greece did not fully address the Commission’s grievances, prompting the ECJ referral, the ultimate stage in the EU infringement process.

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