The process of development of legislation to address the problem of Invasive Alien Species in the European Union is nearing its finalization. This process has been watched carefully by the IAF because of its potential implications to European Falconers but also because this legislation could provide a blueprint for legislation elsewhere in the world. The IAF has participated in the public consultation phase as well as with the development of the Code of Conduct for Hunting with respect to Invasive Alien Species developed by the Council for Europe. Indeed, while no “falconry species” are listed of concern with respect to Invasive Alien Species, this legislation continues to have implications for falconers.
The concern relates to the Preventative Measures considered by this legislation. We are aware of concerns raised by BirdLife relating to the use of hybrid falcons as potentially of significance as Invasive Alien Species. The IAF has analysed and addressed these concerns. The Code of Conduct developed by the Council for Europe addresses the preventative aspects and will be available for download n the IAF website. In addition the IAF has developed a specific code of Conduct for Falconry and has coupled this with a reporting system to monitor any hybrid or exotic raptors which attempt to become established in the wild.
The other area of importance is the call within this legislation for member states to develop their own regulations. Indeed, this will happen in countries around the world, unrelated to the EU legislation. It is essential for falconers to be vigilant and pro-active. You must enter into negotiation with your authorities on this issue to avoid unreasonable or irrational restrictions. The IAF has the capacity to provide you with support and documentation and the IAS page on the IAF website is a source of information to assist you.
IAF President (April 2014)
We provide the following report regarding this EU Legislation:
Since the start of this year, the European Parliament and the Council have been negotiating the draft EU regulation on invasive alien species (IAS) published by the Commission in September 2013. After several months of rather turbulent negotiations, a compromise text was finally agreed and approved in March. The negotiated text will still have to be formally approved by the Parliament and Council of Ministers; however, it now seems more than likely that this long-awaited legislation will soon see the light of day. The plenary vote in Parliament is due to take place on 15 April, and the Council will take its final decision after the vote.
In general, it can be concluded that the agreed EU Regulation covers a lot of ground. It provides a legislative basis for several key interventions: prevention, early warning and rapid response to new IAS and the management of already established invasive species. In addition to the action at EU level, the Regulation also gives important backing for Member States to adopt further measures at the national level (eg new legislation). As such, the future EU legislative framework has even wider coverage than the prevention-oriented biosecurity systems in Australia and New Zealand.
However, the broadness of the Regulation also poses challenges. A number of aspects for implementing the Regulation in practice, including the risk assessment procedure, still remain to be specified. Furthermore, apart from the general cost recovery principle, the Regulation does not identify any particular means to finance the implementation, eg foresee any financial support for rapid eradications.
The key compromises made during the negotiations, including the addition of the possibility for national derogations for socio-economic reasons and limiting the type of species entering the EU list, weakened the strength of the original proposal. The criteria for obtaining exemptions are stringent, including a clear requirement for contingency and eradication plans. In addition, even though possible socio-economic benefits of IAS to Member States are to be taken into consideration, the identification of IAS of Union concern is first and foremost based on biodiversity and environmental considerations. Furthermore, there is a clear emphasis on integrating the adverse - rather than positive - socio-economic impacts of IAS into the risk assessment process. Finally, at the request of Member States, the Commission still holds the power to legislate species of regional concern. Consequently, the final Regulation text can still be considered as a reasonable compromise, providing a long-awaited legislative framework for addressing IAS at EU level.