Since 2015, a regulation has governed the prevention and management of the introduction and propagation of invasive alien species (IAS) within the European Union.
New obligations for Member States
The regulation imposes a series of new obligations on Member States. They are tasked with the following actions for every species included on the list:
- Prohibition of their import and sale;
- Prohibition of their keeping and breeding;
- Prohibition of their introduction into nature.
In addition, the Member States are also tasked with taking measures targeting the species included on the list in order to:
- put in place action plans intended to limit their introduction and accidental spread;
- watch over the evolution of their presence on national territory;
- manage the populations present on the territory according to the level of invasion (rapid eradication measures for new emerging species, confinement and limitation measures for those more widely spread, etc.)
The division of powers between the Federal authority and the Regions
In Belgium, the Regions are primarily responsible for nature conservation. Consequently, they are responsible for managing invasive alien species in their territory. More specifically, they can take any measures to prohibit the sale, possession, breeding or growing of IAS or to remove any species found in nature or in individuals' homes.
However, the Federal State remains responsible:
- for the import, export and transit of IAS, in accordance with its broader jurisdiction regarding the import, export and transit of non-native animal species and plant species and their remains (Art. 6, §1, III, 2° of the Law of 08 August 1980 on institutional reforms);
- for the management of exclusively marine IAS under its responsibility for the North Sea (for the part that falls under Belgium's jurisdiction).
A need to coordinate in Belgium
In order to ensure the proper implementation of the EU Regulation in Belgium, the Federal State, the Communities and the Regions signed a cooperation agreement on 30 January 2019. This creates three new national institutions which are tasked with coordinating the work on IAS in Belgium:
A national website contains all the scientific and political information relating to the coordination of the work in Belgium. This can be accessed via the following website: www.iasregulation.be