EU member states have resolved their disagreements over the proposed EU Invasives Bill, clearing the way for a vote within the next few weeks.
The Permanent Representatives Committee in the EU Council and the Environment Committee of the European Parliament have now agreed for the bill to go forward to a vote, after member states agreed to adopt a zonal approach to the law.
The RHS and the HTA have been among organisations concerned about the law, which would draw up a list of invasive species "of Union concern" and require countries to control them, because plants that are invasive in one country or climate may be benign in another.
BALI technical director and European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA) vice-president Neil Huck said the member states have agreed to a zonal list, which has enabled the bill to be put forward for a vote. Aside from the zonal list there would be a separate list for species that have an EU-wide influence on people and nature.
"We said the list needed to be regionally-based," said Huck. "With this agreement the two committees have followed the ELCA's proposals regarding the control of alien species that we presented at the European Parliament hearing last December.
"For example, the agreement requires that EU member states must research the spreading of invasive species and actively cooperate to develop common measures to control them."
He added: "Additionally, the bill will require all invasive species with EU-wide influence on people and nature to be included in a list. This will now pave the way for a decision in the European Parliament to control alien invasive species."
Plenary vote - Next step on bill's path to law
The vote is expected to be held on 15 April. After the plenary vote, formal approval by the European Council is required for the bill to become law.
European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA) vice-president Neil Huck said: "I think it is the first biodiversity and biosecurity legislation to get before the EU Parliament. People like the RHS will be in favour of it once they understand where it's going." He added that the sudden progress took the ELCA by surprise, but it appears that was no opposition.
If MEPs vote for the law this month it is expected to become UK law by 2016.