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Invasive Alien Species

Invasive Alien Species are animals and plants that are introduced accidently 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 every year.

Brochure on Invasive Alien Species English français Deutsch español

EU Regulation 1143/2014 on Invasive Alien Species

The Regulation 1143/2014 on invasive alien species was published in the Official Journal on 4 November 2014. It has entered into force on 1 January 2015. This Regulation seeks to address the problem of invasive alien species in a comprehensive manner so as to protect native biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as to minimize and mitigate the human health or economic impacts that these species can have.

The regulation foresees three types of interventions; prevention, early detection and rapid eradication, and management. A list of invasive alien species of Union concern will be drawn up and managed with Member States using risk assessments and scientific evidence.

Committee on Invasive Alien Species

The implementation of the Regulation is supported by a Committee made up of representatives of all Member States.

Scientific Forum on Invasive Alien Species

Furthermore, advice on scientific questions related to the implementation of the Regulation is provided through a Scientific Forum with representatives of the scientific community appointed by the Member States.

Working group on Invasive Alien Species

The Working Group on Invasive Alien Species (WGIAS) is reconvened and its membership renewed, so as to have an operational group providing concrete input to the implementation of the Regulation, while ensuring fair and representative participation. The related documents can be found below:

Interested applicants are required to submit their application no later than 15 May 2015 by email to: ENV-IAS@ec.europa.eu

Information support system

The European Commission is working together with several partners to develop an information exchange mechanism to facilitate the implementation of the EU policy on invasive alien species: the European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN) is an online platform that aims to facilitate the exploration of existing information on alien species from distributed sources.

To access data and information on alien species in Europe through a network of interoperable web services click on European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN)

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 supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects. This instrument has been addressing invasive alien species for more than two decades. In that time some 265 LIFE projects have included measures on invasive alien species, ranging from preventing their spread to eradicating or controlling in places where they are already present. LIFE also provides support on trans-border cooperation, dissemination and awareness-raising efforts with regards to invasive alien species.
    Brochure on LIFE and Invasive Alien Species
  • Horizon 2020 - the EU Research and Innovation programme, may also address invasive alien species. For example, a milestone EU Research Project on invasive alien species was DAISIE - "Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe". The project brought together data about biological invasions across Europe. It was supported by the European Union’s Sixth Programme for research, technological development and demonstration. 
  • Rural Development 2014-2020 - the EU’s rural development policy, organised through national and/or regional rural development programmes, provides opportunities to address invasive alien species. For example, the Scotland Rural Development Programme is supporting the control of IAS through five year management agreements with rural land managers. This is available within geographically targeted areas and for the control of certain invasive non-native species, currently grey squirrel, rhododendron ponticum, Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam. 
  • Regional Development funding - strengthening economic and social cohesion in the European Union, may also include action on invasive alien species. As an example, INVEXO, an Interreg IV A-project, was a joint management project on 4 priority invasive alien species in Flanders and the South of the Netherlands The species were addressed through prevention, early warning - rapid response and management, through a partnership with 24 local institutions. 

Preparatory process 

Commission Proposal for a Regulation on Invasive Alien Species

The original Commission proposal was launched on 9 September 2013 and 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.

In formulating its policy, the European Commission has sought citizens' and stakeholders' views on invasive alien species (2008) and on the specific choices to be made when setting up dedicated legislation on invasive species (2012). The results of the 2008 and 2012 consultations are available here: 2008 and 2012.

All other working material related to the EU invasive alien species policy preparation is accessible here. For further information or comments please mail: ENV-IAS@ec.europa.eu

Commission Communication "Towards an EU Strategy on Invasive Species"

On 3 December 2008 the European Commission adopted a Communication presenting policy options for an EU Strategy on Invasive Species. The Communication examines the evidence regarding the ecological, economic and social impact of invasive species in Europe, analyses the effectiveness of the current legal situation for tackling this problem and describes 4 possible options for a future EU strategy.

Preparatory studies

Ad hoc scientific workshop to complete selected invasive alien species risk assessments – February 2015

This workshop has completed risk assessments that were nearly compliant with the minimum standards published in October 2014 (see below). While this workshop provided scientific support to the development of the list of IAS of Union concern, 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.

Framework for the identification of invasive alien species of EU concern – October 2014 

This study has reviewed existing risk assessment methodologies, developed minimum standards and assessed the compliance of available risk assessments with those minimum standards. While this study provides scientific support to the development of the list of IAS of Union concern of the new IAS Regulation, the results presented in the study report cannot be in any way regarded as the list that the Commission will be proposing, nor to represent the opinion of the Commission. 

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 the existing policies on invasive alien species in the 27 EU Member States, as well as in four OECD countries - Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. 

The report includes two parts:

  • Final report - summarising the findings of the study 
  • Country assessments - summarising the existing policies in each Member State and country considered. 

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

This Commission funded report sets out a suggested outline for key components of the future EU Strategy on Invasive Alien Species. The report also provides an initial assessment of the possible level / scale of costs associated with EU policy action on IAS.

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

Other technical studies aimed at support the development of an EU strategy are list below. Their contents and views are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the European Commission.

  • Recommendations on policy options to minimise the negative impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity in Europe and the EU 
  • Assessment of the impacts of invasive alien species in Europe and the EU 
  • Policy options to minimise the negative impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity in Europe and the EU 
  • Analysis of the impacts of policy options/measures to address IAS 

Other research

Other research was conducted focusing on common ragweed, an alien species which is highly invasive across Europe and has harmful impacts on a range of sectors, especially human health and agriculture. 

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 and recommendations 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 modern modelling methods to quantify the current extent of ragweed infestation in Europe, its economic, social and environmental harmful effects in all sectors and possible future scenarios (according to control efforts and climate change).

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