The new regulation, which will be voted on by the European Parliament in April, will effectively ban species of plants deemed to be of ‘Union Concern’ from being brought into the EU; reproduced (for instance, set seed in the case of plants); transported within the EU, or even possessed.
This ban on possession goes far beyond the existing regulation on invasive non-native species in England, although this power already exists in Scotland. The Scottish Wildlife and Natural Environment Act grants powers to enter properties to destroy suspect plants, although there is no ban on possession.
A cap of 50 organisms on the list of species of Union Concern was part of the original proposal, but this was rejected by most EU member states, leaving it currently unclear how many species will be subject to the ban, or the process for including species on the list.
The RHS said: "While the RHS welcomes sensible and proportionate steps to prevent the spread of invasive non-native species it believes this new regulation is too rigid, especially in its stipulation that a species listed as invasive in one EU country would be ‘banned’ in all countries, regardless of whether or not they posed a threat.
"The RHS is keen to see any EU Regulation recognise regional differences to avoid ornamental plants which pose no threat in the UK, being banned because they are considered a problem in other EU countries."