13/12/2013 - Environment Council (ENVI)
Council discusses invasive alien species and CO2 emissions from ships
On 13 December 2013 the EU environment ministers discussed a draft regulation on invasive alien species and a draft regulation on CO2 emissions from maritime transport.
Invasive alien species
The proposed regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species seeks to protect native biodiversity and ecosystems and to limit the adverse impact of those species on human health and economy.
The proposal includes three sets of measures:
- prevention of the intentional and unintentional introduction of species into the EU
- the setting up of an early warning and rapid response system
- management of invasive alien species already widely spread in the EU.
During the orientation debate, the ministers focused on the list of invasive alien species of the EU's concern and on the possibility to cooperate at the level of EU bio-geographic regions.
There are currently around 12 000 alien species in Europe and about 10-15% of them are invasive and rapidly growing in number. The EU spends at least €12 billion a year on control and on repairing damage caused by invasive species.
The aim of the orientation debate was to steer further work in the Council preparatory bodies.
What are invasive alien species?
Invasive alien species are animals and plants that are introduced accidently or deliberately into a natural environment where they are not normally found, with serious negative consequences for their new environment.
Increased world trade, transport and tourism have accelerated their spread. The majority of problematic alien species in the EU come from North America and Asia. Here are some examples:
- the Asian tiger mosquito: introduced into Europe through trade in used tyres. It carries at least 22 viruses, including dengue fever
- the Zebra mussel: carried in ship's ballast water, foul sewers and waterways and endangers native species
- knotweed: an ornamental plant introduced from Asia in the 19th century, afterwards invading the French countryside
CO2 emissions from maritime transport
Ministers also exchanged views on a draft regulation on the monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions from maritime transport. The debate focused on the scope of the proposal and the balance between ensuring a minimum level-playing field and allowing the necessary flexibility while minimising the administrative burden.
The regulation's aim is to set up an EU system to monitor, report and verify CO2 emissions from large ships using EU ports. The proposal is a first step in the EU's strategy to progressively integrate maritime transport emissions in the EU's greenhouse gas reduction policies.
CO2 emissions from the shipping sector currently account for 4% of the EU's total emissions. Without action, CO2 emissions are expected to more than double by 2050.
The presidency also informed the ministers of the outcome of the Warsaw climate change conference and of the state of play of a number of legislative proposals.