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News article13 October 2021Directorate-General for Environment3 min read

Biodiversity: progress made in halting the spread of invasive alien species but challenges remain

The Report published today shows that the Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Regulation is making a steady impact on the ground. Prevention and management of alien species as well as information sharing and awareness of the problem in Member States have improved. The key challenges that remain are linked to the projected increase in global trade and travel, which together with climate change increase the risk of the spread of invasive alien species. Preventing the spread of alien species is important to limit the adverse impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems but also on human health and the economy.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, said:

Invasive alien species are a major driver of biodiversity loss in Europe. Today’s report shows that taking action at EU level has real added value. This Regulation will be an essential tool to continue to address this threat and put biodiversity on the path of recovery under the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.

The Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014) aims to prevent and minimise the adverse impact on native biodiversity posed by these species. The first report on its implementation shows that Member States have often taken effective measures to prevent the intentional or unintentional introduction of IAS of Union concern into the EU. At EU level, there are now 66 IAS of Union concern – 30 animal species and 36 plant species – to which EU measures apply. These include, for instance, plants such as the water hyacinth, and animals like the Asian hornet or the raccoon.  Before December 2018, there were 43 IAS on the Union list. For 41 of these, Member States have taken management measures, and these ongoing efforts are showing varying degree of success. For 57 out of the 135 cases notified, IAS have been detected at an early stage of invasion and rapidly eradicated. Furthermore, information on the IAS present in Europe is now centralised and more complete than ever before, and the IAS Regulation has led to increased awareness of the problem, including among the general public.

Nevertheless, the report also reveals that that there are numerous challenges and areas for improvement. Some Member States lack sufficient funding and the administrative capacity to address IAS. This contributes to a patchy implementation of the various provisions of the regulation. For instance, most Member States have not yet implemented the action plans to address the priority pathways (routes and mechanisms of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species). Furthermore, there is scope to improve both the comprehensiveness of the coverage of surveillance systems and the official control structures in many Member States. Also, knowledge gaps remain such as on the costs and benefits of addressing IAS and on methods for IAS management.  

The Commission will take steps to improve compliance with the IAS Regulation. The full implementation of the Regulation, as well as of other relevant legislation and international agreements, must be improved – a commitment made under the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.


Invasive alien species (IAS) are animals and plants that, as a result of human intervention, are accidentally or deliberately introduced into a natural environment where they are not normally found, with serious negative consequences for their new environment. IAS are one of the five major causes of biodiversity loss in Europe and worldwide. They can also cause significant adverse impacts on the economy and human health, such as severe allergies and burns.

The IAS Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species), which entered into force on 1 January 2015, aims to prevent, minimise and mitigate the adverse impacts of IAS on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to limit social and economic damage. The adoption of the IAS Regulation was a major step forward in developing the EU’s biodiversity policy. The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 set the aim to minimise, and where possible eliminate, the introduction and establishment of alien species in the EU environment. It also contains the commitment to manage established invasive alien species and decrease the number of Red List species they threaten by 50% by 2030.

For more information

Commission Report on the review of the application of Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species

More information on EU action on invasive alien species

 European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN)


Publication date
13 October 2021
Directorate-General for Environment

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