The European Union has adopted the ambitious target of halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010. Several indicators have been proposed to assess progress towards the 2010 target, two of them addressing directly the issue of species decline. In Europe, the Fauna Europaea database gives an insight into the patterns of distribution of a total dataset of 130,000 terrestrial and freshwater species without taxonomic bias, and provide a unique opportunity to assess the feasibility of the 2010 target. It shows that the vast majority of European species are rare, in the sense that they have a restricted range. Considering this, the paper discusses whether the 2010 target indicators really cover the species most at risk of extinction. The analysis of a list of 62 globally extinct European taxa shows that most contemporary extinctions have affected narrow-range taxa or taxa with strict ecological requirements. Indeed, most European species listed as threatened in the IUCN Red List are narrow-range species. Conversely, there are as many wide-range species as narrow-range endemics in the list of protected species in Europe (Bird and Habitat Directives). The subset of biodiversity captured by the 2010 target indicators should be representative of the whole biodiversity in terms of patterns of distribution and abundance. Indicators should not overlook a core characteristic of biodiversity, i.e. the large number of narrow-range species and their intrinsic vulnerability. With ill-selected indicator species, the extinction of narrow-range endemics would go unnoticed.