Changing agricultural practices have dramatically altered the arable flora of Europe since the Second World War. We conducted a meta-analysis of the available literature to assess the dynamics of species richness and species traits in the arable flora across Europe during this time period. We found a total of 32 publications, yielding 53 data sets with an average number of 252 studied plots per data set. Average species number per plot of arable plants across all data sets declined by about 20%. However, twelve data sets showed an increase in average species number per plot, including all studies starting after 1980. Plant species preferring nutrient-rich sites, neophytes and monocotyledons generally increased since 1980, while characteristic or threatened species of arable weed communities further declined. This temporal development of the European arable flora suggests that the changes happening in agricultural management since the 1980s, such as organic farming and reduced pesticide input, may have helped slow the decline of the arable flora in terms of species number, but not in terms of characteristic or threatened arable weeds. Hence, more specific measures are necessary to stop decline of the latter, making sure that these measures are advantageous for rare and characteristic arable species, but not for harmful weeds.