The world's largest sperm bank has recently warned the European Union (EU) that access to donor sperms must be improved to reinvigorate the continent's birth rates, media reported.
Fertility rates steadily declined from the mid-1960s through to the turn of the century in the EU member states, according to figures provided by Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency.
In 2015, the total fertility rate in the current 28-member bloc was 1.58 live births per woman, said Eurostat.
The level is below a fertility rate of around 2.1 live births per woman, which is considered to be the average number required to keep the population size constant in the absence of migration, Eurostat added.
In response to the grim numbers, sperm banks across Europe are calling on the EU to make changes to its current regulations in order to increase birth rates and halt the population slump.
According to the minutes of a meeting between European Commission officials and the world's largest sperm bank Cryos International, "population growth in the EU has slowed down and that it is a priority that the rate of childbirth be increased."
"This objective would be supported by increasing access to donor sperm," reported The Guardian on Friday, citing the minutes as saying.
According to Cryos International, "the demand (for donor sperm) has increased by around 500 percent over recent years, but only 10 percent of those who need access to medical treatment with donated gametes are receiving it."
However, European sperm banks are closing after the enforcement of new EU regulations on staffing levels, The Guardian reported.
Moreover, some EU member states require traceable donor identity and even impose tax on donor sperm as it was treated as "goods" liable to value-added tax.
"Cryos stated that it was already difficult to recruit adequate numbers of donors but that rules put in place by regulators, for example the dropping of donor anonymity in some member states, had made this situation worse," the minutes noted.
"Access to (non-partner) donated sperm is the key challenge in Europe," Cryos International said in the minutes.
The world's largest sperm bank suggested that the EU should consider the demand and allow an open single market for sperm.