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Plant health

Healthy plants are essential for safe and sustainable food production and a healthy environment.

Pests such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, nematodes, insects and mites can harm the health of plants.

The introduction and spread of plant pests, often through trade, is a serious threat to crops, forests, natural vegetation and landscape plants, which can have far-reaching economic, social and environmental consequences, with possible effects on human health.

In the European Union (EU), we have rules to prevent the introduction and spread of harmful plant pests originating from outside the EU, known as Union quarantine pests According to Regulation (EU) 2016/2031, a pest is a ‘quarantine pest’, with respect to a defined territory, if it fulfils all of the following conditions:(a) its identity is established;(b) it is not present in the territory or, if present, is not widely distributed within that territory;(c) it is capable of entering into, becoming established in and spreading within the territory, or, if present in the territory, but not widely distributed, is capable of entering into, becoming established in and spreading within those parts of that territory where it is absent;(d) its entry, establishment and spread would have an unacceptable economic, environmental or social impact on that territory, or, if present but not widely distributed, for those parts of the territory where it is absent; and(e) feasible and effective measures are available to prevent the entry into, establishment in or spread of that pest within, that territory and to mitigate the risks and impact thereof..

EFSA supports the EU’s decision-making on protective measures by identifying emerging threats to plants and inform ing the EU risk managers.

Our scientists also assess the probability The likelihood that a particular event will occur or that a measured value will fall within a particular range. of pests being introduced and spread, the possible impact on EU agriculture and the environment and the options for risk mitigation.

In addition, we help EU Member States prepare and design pest surveys to detect pests at an early stage after their emergence.


  1. 2023


    EFSA updates the Xylella host plant database, a key tool for the assessment and management of risks, and for research, covering data from research published before 30 June 2023.

    EFSA launches RiPEST (Risk-based Pest Survey Tool) to help to plan and execute a statistically sound and risk-based survey on plant pests.

  2. September

    EFSA publishes an interactive dashboard with the results of its horizon scanning activity for plant pests that may pose a threat to European Union territory.

  3. August

    EFSA organises the 4th European conference on Xylella fastidiosa in Lyon, France, bringing together around 300 researchers, risk assessors, risk managers and stakeholders in person and online to discuss the results of new research since X. fastidiosa was first detected in Europe in 2013. 

  4. July

    EFSA launches the #PlantHealth4Life campaign, with the European Commission (EC) and partners in EU Member States, to promote awareness of plant health and its link to our everyday lives.

  5. May

    EFSA publishes its first quantitative pest risk assessment with climate change scenarios, for the invasive insect species A subdivision of the genus, a species is a group of closely related and similar-looking organisms; for example, in the case of Homo sapiens (humans), the second part of the name (sapiens) represents the species.Elasmopalpus lignosellus.

  6. 2021


    EFSA launches the Index of the Plant Pest Surveillance Toolkit, facilitating access to EFSA’s publications for assisting EU Member States in planning and executing their surveys for quarantine pests. 

  7. 2020


    EFSA publishes general guidelines for statistically sound and risk-based surveys of plant pests.

  8. January

    EFSA publishes its first commodity risk assessment of a high risk plant from a third country, for Albizia julibrissin plants from Israel.

  9. 2019


  10. April

  11. 2018


  12. 2017


    EFSA jointly organises the first European Conference on Xylella fastidiosa in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, with the University of the Balearic Islands, the Euphresco network, the EU Horizon 2020 projects POnTE and XF-ACTORS, and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD).

  13. 2016


    EFSA launches the @Plants_EFSA thematic account for X (formerly Twitter) dedicated to plant health.

  14. December

    EFSA publishes guidance on the environmental risk assessment  A specialised field of applied science that involves reviewing scientific data and studies in order to evaluate risks associated with certain hazards. It involves four steps: hazard identification, hazard characterisation, exposure assessment and risk characterisation. of plant pests.

EFSA’s role

EFSA analyses and monitors risks to plant health to assist the European Commission and EU Member States in taking decisions to manage these risks such as through the development of preventive measures, early detection systems, and effective control strategies.

Our scientists evaluate for example potential threats posed by pests and diseases to plants, crops, and ecosystems.

Our expert Panel on Plant Health (PLH) is responsible for carrying out our risk assessments of plant pests. The Panel also carries out import commodity risk assessments for plants or plant products, assessing the risk of plant pests associated with the commodity and the efficacy How well something works in relation to predefined standards or expectations. of treatments and/or systems approaches.

Our experts assess the risk of a specific plant pest to the EU territory by carrying out pest categorisation and/or quantitative pest risk assessments or, in some cases, by evaluating pest risk assessments carried out by third parties. We carry out these assessments upon request by the European Commission, the European Parliament or EU Member States.

We also coordinate two networks of EU Member State institutions. The Scientific Network for Risk Assessment in Plant Health, established in 2007, facilitates the harmonisation of risk assessment practices and improves the exchange of information and data. The Scientific Network on Plant Pest Surveillance, established in 2023, provides training to its members  in pest surveillance methodologies to support the EU Member States in the planning and execution of pest surveys. 

Risk assessment for plant pests

One of the key tasks of the EFSA’s Plant Health Panel is to conduct pest risk assessments on emerging and regulated pests. Pest risk assessment is the intermediate stage of pest risk analysis (PRA) as defined by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)’s International standards for phytosanitary measures. This activity requires a wide range of expertise and the most up-to-date scientific knowledge and methods in order to provide high quality scientific advice to the risk managers in the European Union. It includes activities on pest risk assessment, priority pests and commodity risk assessment.

Pest surveillance

EU Member States need to be prepared for the increasing threat of plant pests. To help them plan their pest surveys, EFSA provides a toolkit that includes pest survey cards, survey guidelines, and statistical tools. The aim is to assist national authorities in carrying out plant pest surveys in their territories and to harmonise surveillance methods across the EU.

Horizon scanning for plant health

Horizon scanning for plant health through monitoring of the media and scientific articles indicating emerging threats from new and regulated pests. EFSA, in collaboration with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), screens online news in scientific media and other publications in order to provide timely information to EU risk managers on new, emerging or recurring pests that may be of concern to the EU territory. The main output of this activity is a monthly newsletter.

Xylella fastidiosa

Xylella fastidiosa is a bacterial plant pathogen Organism (e.g. bacterium, virus and parasite) that can cause disease. transmitted by insects  feeding on xylem sap. It is associated with serious diseases in a wide range of plants around the world. For example, it causes Pierce’s disease in grapevine, citrus variegated chlorosis, phony peach disease, coffee leaf scorch, olive quick decline syndrome and other diseases that affect common trees such as plum, almond, oak and oleander.

EFSA has published numerous reports and scientific opinions on X. fastidiosa since the beginning of its first European outdoors outbreak in southern Italy in 2013, including a regularly updated host plants database and the organisation of a biennial conference . Full details of EFSA’s work in this area can be found in the “Completed work” section of this page.

EU framework

Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 (the Plant Health Law) lays down protective measures against the introduction into the European Union (EU) of organisms harmful to plants or plant products and against their spread within the EU. It lists harmful organisms that threaten plant health in the EU. The law became applicable from 14 December 2019.

For more information

European Commission: Plant Health and biosecurity

Expert group

Experts in pest risk assessment, plant pathology, epidemiology, and ecology.