Introduction

In recent years, invasive alien species (IAS) have become a high-profile policy topic for the international community which has emphasized the need for cross-sectoral coordination between competent institutions and stakeholders at all levels. New programs and tools have been developed, notably the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) which actively promotes practical regional cooperation. GISP has published a Global Strategy on Invasive Alien Species and a Toolkit of Best Prevention and Management Practices. IAS are a major topic requiring intensive international cooperation and a multidisciplinary approach at different levels: academic, administrative and local communities. Taking measures to limit the impact of IAS is also a compulsory requirement of the countries that are parties to international conventions. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (ratified by Law 58/1994) has identified IAS as a major cross-cutting theme. This global treaty requires Parties "as far as possible and as appropriate, (to) prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species" (Article 8(h)). In 2002, the CBD Conference of the Parties adopted a specific Decision and Guiding Principles11 to help Parties implement this requirement. The Decision urges Parties, other governments and relevant organizations to prioritize the development of IAS strategies and action plans at national and regional level and to promote and implement the CBD Guiding Principles. The Bern Convention, to which the European Community and 38 European states are party, requires Parties "to strictly control the introduction of non-native species" (Article 11.2.b). Since 1984, a range of actions have been initiated for more effective implementation of this article. These include the adoption of Standing Committee recommendations on general IAS issues and specific problems, production of technical reports, organization of workshops and establishment of an IAS Experts' Group. The Bern Convention (Convention on the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats in Europe) was adopted by Romania (Law 13/1993). Despite these and other efforts, Europe and Romania now lag behind other regions that have developed strategic frameworks to address IAS in a holistic way. Whilst Europe's complex characteristics can make it harder to develop and implement common trade and movement policies, this should not be used to postpone decisive and balanced action. The common trade and movement policy for the plant health sector developed under EPPO shows that coordination and cooperation is feasible. The impacts of many past invasions could have been reduced if European States had uniformly applied appropriate best practices and taken rapid action to eradicate introduced species following detection. Most biological invasions now threatening Europe might have been prevented by greater awareness of IAS issues and a stronger commitment to address them. Current inaction in many - though not all - States and sectors may threaten the region's biodiversity, public health and economic interests. In line with international policy, it is now essential to develop efficient cooperation at national and regional level to prevent or minimize adverse impacts of IAS.