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Invasive Alien Species

Invasive Alien Species (IAS) are animals and plants that are introduced accidentally or deliberately into a natural environment where they are not normally found, with serious negative consequences for their new environment. They represent a major threat to native plants and animals in Europe, causing damage worth billions of euros to the European economy every year. As invasive alien species do not respect borders, coordinated action at the European level will be more effective than individual actions at the Member State level.

EU Regulation 1143/2014 on Invasive Alien Species

Regulation (EU) 1143/2014 on invasive alien species (the IAS Regulation) entered into force on 1 January 2015, fulfilling Action 16 of Target 5 of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy. It provides for a set of measures to be taken across the EU in relation to invasive alien species included on a list of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern. For more information about the species included on this list click here.

Three distinct types of measures are envisaged, which follow an internationally agreed hierarchical approach to combatting IAS:

  • Prevention: a number of robust measures aimed at preventing IAS of Union concern from entering the EU, either intentionally or unintentionally.
  • Early detection and rapid eradication: Member States must put in place a surveillance system to detect the presence of IAS of Union concern as early as possible and take rapid eradication measures to prevent them from establishing.
  • Management: some IAS of Union concern are already well-established in certain Member States and concerted management action is needed so that they do not spread any further and to minimize the harm they cause.

Committee and expert groups on invasive alien species

The Commission is assisted by a number of bodies in the implementation of the IAS Regulation.

The Committee on IAS upports the implementation of the IAS Regulation. It consists of representatives of all Member States. More information on its activities can be found here.

The Scientific Forum on IAS provides advice on scientific questions related to the implementation of the IAS Regulation. It consists of representatives of the scientific community appointed by the Member States. More information on its activities can be found here.

  • The Scientific forum is currently reviewing 20 new risk assessments for species to be considered for the next update of the Union list. Stakeholders can provide additional evidence and information by 27 May 2018, according to this procedure. The risk assessments are available here.

The Working Group on IAS assists the Commission and facilitates coordination, consisting of interested stakeholders. More information on its activities can be found here.

Relevant acts

Information support system & citizen science

The European Commission has developed an information exchange mechanism to facilitate the implementation of the EU policy on invasive alien species: the European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN). It's an online platform that aims to facilitate the exploration of existing information on alien species from distributed sources.

It includes a Species Search and Mapping tool, allowing for basic and advanced search for over 14 000 alien species in Europe and showing the distribution on a map including for the 49 species on the Union list.

If you are interested in becoming a citizen scientist and want to help monitor invasive alien species (IAS) in your region, you can use the App “Invasive Alien Species Europe” to report on the IAS of Union Concern. Developed by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, the app enables to report IAS occurrences in Europe allowing citizens to contribute to early detections of new invaders.

The Invasive Alien Species in Europe app can be downloaded here:
Apple iTunes Store
Google Play Store

More information on the App can be found here.

Financial support system

The European Commission is supporting action on invasive alien species through its existing financing instruments. Some examples:

  • LIFE - the EU's financial instrument for environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects - supports measures on invasive alien species ranging from preventing their spread to eradicating or controlling them in places where they are already present. LIFE also provides support for trans-border cooperation and awareness-raising on invasive alien species. You can find more details in the brochure on LIFE and Invasive Alien Species.
  • Horizon 2020 - the EU Research and Innovation programme, for example the Project DAISIE ("Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe") under FP 6 which brought together data about biological invasions across Europe.
  • The EU Rural Development policy 2014-2020 provides opportunities to address invasive alien species through national and regional rural development programmes. For example, the Scotland Rural Development Programme has supported five-year management agreements with rural land managers in  targeted areas for the control of certain invasive non-native species.
  • Regional Development funding may also include action on invasive alien species, e.g.  the INVEXO Interreg IV A-project which supported joint management efforts on 4 priority invasive alien species in Flanders and the South of the Netherlands.

Studies underpinning the IAS policy

These studies have been commissioned to inform and assist in the preparation of the EU policies on invasive alien species, but they should not be considered to represent the views of the European Commission.

Support to the implementation of the IAS policy – ongoing since 2017

Technical notes assisting the Commission, Member States and stakeholders in the implementation of the Regulation can be found here.

Prioritising prevention efforts through horizon scanning – August 2015

A horizon scanning methodology for Europe was developed and implemented, resulting in a list of 95 species across all taxa (except microorganisms) within marine, terrestrial and freshwater environments, identified as very high or high priority for risk assessment. The results presented in its report cannot be in any way regarded as the list that the Commission will be proposing, nor to represent the opinion of the Commission.

Ad hoc scientific workshop to complete IAS risk assessments – February 2015
This workshop provided scientific support to the development of the first list of IAS of Union concern.

Framework for the identification of invasive alien species of EU concern – October 2014
This study reviewed existing risk assessment methodologies, developed minimum standards and assessed the compliance of available risk assessments with those minimum standards.

Complex research on methods to halt the Ambrosia invasion in Europe – May 2014
This Commission grant supported a team of scientists from the fields of agronomy, weed science and ecology to design and perform joint experiments and create guidelines on the control of ragweed.

Assessing and controlling the spread and the effects of common ragweed in Europe - October 2012
This Commission funded study summarised and systematically reviewed data and utilised modelling methods to quantify the current extent of ragweed infestation in Europe, its economic, social and environmental effects and possible future scenarios (according to control efforts and climate change).

Assessment of existing policies on invasive alien species in EU Member States and selected OECD countries – September 2011
This Commission funded study provides an overview of policies on invasive alien species in 27 EU Member States and four OECD countries - Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

Assessment to support continued development of the EU strategy to combat invasive alien species – November 2010

Recommendations on policy options to minimise the negative impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity in Europe and the EU (2009)

Assessment of the impacts of invasive alien species in Europe and the EU (2009)

Policy options to minimise the negative impacts of IAS on biodiversity in Europe and the EU (2008)

Analysis of the impacts of policy options/measures to address IAS  (2009)

History of the IAS Regulation

The Commission proposal for a regulation on Invasive Alien Species was launched on 9 September 2013. All related documents can be found below:

The EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy adopted in May 2011 announced a dedicated legislative instrument on invasive alien species, hence the new proposal.

Two public consultations were held on the IAS policy in 2008 and 2012. The results are available here: 2008 and 2012.On 3 December 2008 the European Commission adopted a Communication "Towards an EU Strategy on Invasive Species":

More information

All other working material related to the EU invasive alien species policy preparation is accessible here. For further information or comments please write to:

Back to Target 5 of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy.


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