Navigation path

High level navigation


Page navigation

Invasive species, threatening biodiversity in Europe

Invasive Alien

Additional tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Print version
  • Decrease text
  • Increase text

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 millions of euros every year.

Commission proposal for EU legislation to address invasive alien species and protect biodiversity

The European Commission has published a proposal for a Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species. The proposal 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 proposal is for three types of interventions; prevention, early warning and rapid response, and management. A list of invasive alien species of Union concern will be drawn up with Member States using risk assessments and scientific evidence.

The proposed Regulation will now be examined by the Council and the Parliament.

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 is accessible here. For further information or comments please mail:


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, economical 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.

The Commission Communication has since been discussed in various EU institutions:

The Environment Council adopted conclusions on the mid-term assessment of implementing the EU Biodiversity Action Plan (the 2008 Report) and Towards an EU Strategy on Invasive Alien Species

The Committee of the Regions adopted its opinion "A NEW IMPETUS FOR HALTING BIODIVERSITY LOSS".

The European Economic and Social Committee adopted its opinion on Towards an EU Strategy on Invasive Species.


Assessing and controlling the spread and the effects of common ragweed in Europe – October 2012

Common ragweed is an alien species which is highly invasive across Europe and has harmful impacts on a range of sectors, especially human health and agriculture. This Commission funded study synthesised and systematically reviewed information 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).

The report is available here. All background information, including maps, is available here.

An overview of the problem, possible policy options and their implications

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

 Further background information

  1. A European Alien Species Information Network: access to data and information on alien species in Europe through a network of interoperable web services.
  2. A pan-European inventory of alien species: rationale, implementation and implications for managing biological invasions (deliverable of the RTD project DAISIE - Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe).