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Last edited: Mar 8, 2022, 10:35 AM

Please note, some of the guidance in this section of the website is out of date and currently under review.

The EU Regulation (1143/2014) on invasive alien (non-native) species (external link) entered into force on 1 January 2015. The Regulation imposes restrictions on a list of species known as “species of Union concern”. These are species whose potential adverse impacts across the European Union are such that concerted action across Europe is required. This list is drawn up by the European Commission and managed with Member States using risk assessments and scientific evidence.

Article 24(1) of the regulation requires that Member States submit a report on implementation by 1 June 2019. Read the UK's report on implementation (external link).

Read the review of implementation of the retained EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation (EU 1143/2014) in Great Britain 2015-2020 (external link).

List of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern

On 14 July 2016, the European Commission published Commission Implementing Regulation 2016/1141 (external link), which implements the list of species of Union concern, comprising 37 species (23 animals and 14 plants). The list came into force on 3 August 2016.

On 13 July 2017, the European Commission published Commission Implementing Regulation 2017/1263 (external link) which added 12 species to the list of species of Union concern. The associated restrictions and obligations came into force on 2 August 2017 for all of these species except the Raccoon dog, for which they came into force on 2 February 2019.

News: On 26 July 2019, the European Commission published Commission Implementing Regulation 2019/1262 (external link) which added a further 17 species to the list of species of Union concern. The associated restrictions and obligations came into force on 15 August 2019.

These species are:

  • Acridotheres tristis, Common myna
  • Arthurdendyus triangulatus, New Zealand flatworm
  • Lepomis gibbosus, Pumpkinseed
  • Plotosus lineatus, Striped eel catfish
  • Acacia saligna (Acacia cyanophylla), Golden wreath wattle
  • Ailanthus altissima, Tree of heaven
  • Andropogon virginicus, Broomsedge bluestem
  • Cardiospermum grandiflorum, Balloon vine
  • Cortaderia jubata, Purple pampas grass
  • Ehrharta calycina, Perennial veldtgrass
  • Gymnocoronis spilanthoides, Senegal tea plant
  • Humulus scandens, Japanese hop
  • Lespedeza cuneata (Lespedeza juncea var. sericea), Chinese bushclover
  • Lygodium japonicum, Vine-like fern
  • Prosopis juliflora, Mesquite
  • Salvinia molesta (Salvinia adnata), Salvinia moss
  • Triadica sebifera (Sapium sebiferum), Chinese tallow
Useful resources

European Commission invasive alien species webpage (external link).

Consolidated list of 66 species of Union Concern (PDF)

FAQ published by the Commission (external link).

Brochure on 49 of the species of Union concern (external link) 

Baseline data on the original 37 species (external link) 

Risk assessments used to support the listing process (external link).

How the Regulation works

The key decision-making body in the implementation of the Regulation is the Committee of Member States which is chaired by the European Commission. This Committee makes its decisions based on the qualified majority voting system. There is a Scientific Forum which provides advice to the Commission and the Committee, mainly on risk assessments, listing and derogations. There is also a working group of stakeholders.

View the Regulation (external link) and read more on the working of the Regulation (external link).

Permits issued by the UK under the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation

Under Article 8 of the EU IAS Regulation the UK issues permits to carry out research on, or ex-situ conservation of, invasive alien species of Union concern. Where the use of products derived from invasive alien species of Union concern is unavoidable to advance human health, the UK may also include scientific production and subsequent medicinal use within their permit system. More detail on the permitting requirements can be found in the text of the Regulation (external link).

Permits are issued by the Animal and Plant Health Agency on behalf of Defra and the devolved administrations. Read more on how to apply for a permit (external link).

View details of permits issued under the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation

Other legislation

The UK is a Contracting Party to the following European conventions and legislative instruments:

Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (external link)
The objective of the Bonn Convention is the conservation of migratory species worldwide. In order to avoid any migratory species becoming endangered, contracting parties must endeavour to provide immediate protection for migratory species included in Appendix I. To protect endangered migratory species, contracting parties to the Convention will also endeavour: to conserve or restore the habitats of endangered species; to prevent, remove, compensate for or minimise the adverse effects of activities or obstacles that impede the migration of the species; and to the extent feasible and appropriate, to prevent, reduce or control factors that are endangering or are likely to further endanger the species.

The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (PDF)
States that under Article 11(2)(b) that each Contracting Party to the Convention undertakes to "strictly control the introduction of non-native species".

Directive on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (external link)
(EC Habitats Directive) Article 22 of this Directive (92/43/EC) requires Member States to "ensure that the deliberate introduction into the wild of any species which is not native to their territory is regulated so as not to prejudice natural habitats within their natural range or the wild native fauna and flora and, if they consider it necessary, prohibit such introduction."

Directive on the conservation of wild birds (external link)
(EC Birds Directive) Article 11 of this Directive (79/409/EC) states that "Member States shall see that any introduction of species of bird which do not occur naturally in the wild state in the European territory of the member states does not prejudice the local flora and fauna."

EC Wildlife Trade Regulations (external link)
CITES (external link) is implemented in the EU through the Wildlife Trade Regulations. Currently these are Council Regulation 338/97/EC (external link) on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein (the Basic Regulation) and Commission Regulation 865/2006/EC (external link) laying down detailed rules concerning the implementation of Council Regulation 338/97/EC (the Implementing Regulation). Suspension regulations including 997/2010/EC (external link) (5 November 2010) and Regulation 359/2009/EC (external link) (30 April 2009) suspend the introduction into the Community of certain species from certain countries. Four animals species have been banned from import into the EU but there is no restriction on movement between Member States or holding:

  1. Red-earred Terrapin or Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
  2. American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)
  3. Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)
  4. American Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Water Framework Directive and guidance
This establishes a framework for national measures to achieve or maintain a good ecological status for European inland, transitional and coastal waters by 2015 and prevent their further deterioration.

Marine Strategy Framework Directive (external link) 2008/56/EC (17 June 2008)
Requires each Member State to develop a maritime strategy based on the ecosystem approach with the aim of acheiving or maintaining 'good environmental status' in the marine environment by 2021.

Plant Health Directive (external link) 2000/29/EC (8 May 2000)
Establishes protective measures against the introduction into the EU and intra-EU spread of organisms harmful to plants or plant  products.

Aquaculture Regulation (external link) 708/2007/EC (11 June 2007)
Establishes a dedicated fromework to assess and minimise the possible impact of alien and locally absent species used in aquaculture on the aquatic environment.


The Regulation was first proposed by the EU Commission on September 9 2013.

The EU has been working towards the development of a Strategy on Invasive Alien (Non-native) Species since 2008. This Strategy took into account the Review of the EU Common Plant Health Regime (external link) and the Animal Health Strategy (external link), the Commission's new strategy to protect and improve the state of Europe's biodiversity (external link). This Biodiversity strategy includes six targets one of which relates to invasive alien species (IAS).

  • Target 5- To control invasive alien species (IAS): By 2020, Invasive Alien Species and their pathways are identified and prioritised, priority species controlled or eradicated, and pathways are managed to prevent the introduction and establishment of new IAS. Relevant actions include: Action 15: Strengthen the EU Plant and Animal Health Regimes - The Commission will integrate additional biodiversity concerns into the Plant and Animal Health regimes by 2012. Action 16: Establish a dedicated instrument on Invasive Alien Species - The Commission will fill policy gaps in combating IAS by developing a dedicated legislative instrument by 2012.

The following presentation provides a good summary of this work - Towards an EU Strategy on Invasive Alien Species (PDF).