The EU phytosanitary system and invasive alien species
The phytosanitary provisions and systems of the European Union (EU) and its member states have been fully harmonized since 1993. They are in place to minimize the introduction of alien organisms that are harmful to plants and plant products and to limit their spread within the community. Their scope equates the scope of the International Plant Protection Convention. The measures applied to imports and the internal movement of plants and plant products are based on directive 2000/29/EC of the Council of the European Union. Provisions include the prohibition or restriction of the import or internal movement of certain harmful organisms (quarantine pests) or of plants, plant products or other articles that may be pathways for these organisms. The systems include the National Plant Protection Organizations of the member states, which are the main part of the official services of each state responsible for the implementation of the provisions. The provisions and required procedures for their implementation are developed and decided in different working groups and committees at the EU level. Furthermore, this framework includes an EU-wide early warning and pest reporting system and some specific obligations to limit the spread or to eradicate certain organisms that are not yet widespread in the community and harmful to plants and plant products. Thus the EU phytosanitary system provides an excellent framework for the implementation of measures against invasive alien species that are harmful to plants, plant communities and plants in any ecosystem. Such protection is already established in this framework in regard to direct plant pests like pathogenic fungi or harmful insects. The Guiding Principles on measures against invasive alien species (mitigation of impacts, eradication, containment and control) of the Convention on Biological Diversity are widely covered regarding the plant sector. However, the systems, including monitoring and research, need some adaptation concerning indirect plant pests in particular invasive plants and impacts on the uncultivated environment.