If creatures from foreign eco-sytems are hard to beat, the countries of Europe should gang up on them, says Brussels. From shellfish to tortoise to chinchillas, while harmless on a limited scale, they can grow up to be monsters, by disrupting European plant and animal life. Trying to control invasive species brought to Europe is estimated to cost around twelve billion euros per year – repairing damage to dams, canals, irrigation, for instance, or protecting indigenous flora and fauna.
There is no harmonised approach for this across the EU, but the European Commission is working on it. A spokeswoman said: “Most of the species are intentionally introduced into the European Union for farming purposes, forestry purposes or even for ornamental purposes, by individuals and by companies.” Monitoring, assessment, coordination of existing legislation, regular border control checks and voluntary codes of conduct to encourage responsible behaviour by retailers and consumers are among the options in fighting back. Widespread consultations have been launched, with a strategy proposal for invasive species policy due in 2010.