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Action at EU Level

The EU - active on AMR for more than 15 years - strives to bring about behaviour change and tackle this pressing issue within a "One Health" approach. pdf

Raising Awareness

Reducing the overuse and misuse of antimicrobial medicines is vital to stop the appearance of resistant microorganisms. Among other good practices, the following ones are key to tackle this problem:

  • Better prescribing practices (including prescribing antibiotics only when required)
  • Stop self-medication in countries in which antimicrobial medicines are freely available
  • Respect the dosages
  • Stop the overuse and misuse of antimicrobial medicines in agriculture and the veterinary field

To raise awareness about this issue, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) founded the European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) which aims to provide a platform and support for national campaigns about prudent antibiotic use. Over the years, European Antibiotic Awareness Day - marked annually in November together with the World Antibiotic Awareness Week organised by WHO - has developed into a platform of global reach, partnering up with many countries outside the EU as well as relevant stakeholders, in line with the Commission's "One-Health" approach to AMR.

Second AMR Action Plan

The Commission will continue and scale up its fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), with the launch in 2017 of a second Action Plan (Roadmappdf). The new Action Plan will take the form of a Commission communication to the European Parliament and the Council. It will focus on supporting Member States, particularly in establishing, implementing and monitoring their National Action Plans, bringing together EU funds and instruments in order to promote innovation and research against AMR and strengthening its leading role in global fora, notably within the international organisations and with major trade partners.

Commission's Action Plan (2011-2016)

The Commission's 2011 Action Plan against the rising threats from AMRpdf contains 12 actions for implementation with EU Member States and identifies 7 areas where measures are most needed:

  • making sure antimicrobials are used appropriately in both humans and animals
  • preventing microbial infections and their spread
  • developing new effective antimicrobials or alternatives for treatment
  • cooperating with international partners to contain the risks of AMR
  • improving monitoring and surveillance in human and animal medicine
  • promoting research and innovation
  • improving communication, education and training

The evaluation of the Action Planpdf - published in October 2016 by the Commission (please find here the Executive Summarypdf) - shows that this had a clear added value acting as a symbol of political commitment, stimulating several actions within Member States, and has served to strengthen international cooperation. The Action Plan has also provided a framework to guide and coordinate activities on AMR at international level in the area of monitoring and surveillance and on R&D. This factsheetpdf summarizes the main points of this evaluation.

Furthermore, there is also an external report available regarding the Evaluation of the EC Action Plan against the rising threats from antimicrobial resistancepdf (and appendicespdf).

Prior to this evaluation a Progress Reportpdf on the AMR Action Plan (2011-2016) was published in February 2015 which showed the state of play of the steps taken to address this issue.

The Commission has also compiled a detailed overview of the 12 Actions covered by the Action Plan in a Road Map (updated on November 2016)pdf, including the operational objectives, the concrete activities and the deadlines.

Preliminary findings on the evaluation of the AMR action plan 2011-16pdf

EU Actions and Legislation

The Commission aims to substantially reinforce existing good practices and support Member States in preventing the further spread of resistances and preserve the ability of antibiotics to combat microbial infections. Over the years, the EC has endorsed the following key initiatives:

Surveillance and Audits

One of the main activities on AMR performed at EU level is surveillance. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) coordinates and funds two networks of surveillance:

Furthermore, ECDC also publishes Eurosurveillance, a peer-reviewed scientific journal providing information on communicable diseases, to accelerate effective prevention and to promote international awareness across Europe.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is also a main player regarding monitoring and evaluating the AMR risks to human and animal health. In 2010, EMA presented the European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) project that collects information on how antimicrobial medicines are used in animals across the EU. The latest annual ESVAC report was published in October 2016.

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) is also involved in the surveillance efforts across the EU. EFSA publishes yearly - since 2010 - specific summary reports on the occurrence of AMR in both zoonotic and indicator bacteria from food-producing animals and foodstuffs in the EU. Prepared in joint collaboration with ECDC since 2011, the summary reports have also addressed the resistance in zoonotic isolates from human cases since then.

In order to improve the surveillance systems on AMR, the Commission asked EFSA to revise the existing technical specifications on the monitoring of AMR and issue scientific reports, as it has been laid by the Commission Implementing Decision 2013/652/EU39 (which entered into force on 1 January 2014). The new legislation ensures harmonised monitoring systems in Europe, fosters comparability between the Member States and between the human and veterinary sectors and facilitates the monitoring of patterns of multi-drug resistance in the EU.

In September 2009, EMA published a joint report together with ECDC and the international network ReAct - Action on Antibiotic Resistance . This report highlights the gap between infections due to resistant bacteria and the development of new antibiotics.

Audits are another important part of the EU activity on tackling AMR. The DG Health and Food Safety has launched in September an audit series to verify the implementation of the legislation concerning the monitoring of AMR in certain animal species. The preparatory work for this series was carried out in close cooperation between the relevant units in Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), the EURL (EU Reference Laboratory) and EFSA.

Projects & Research

The Commission funds several antimicrobial resistance projects through its Health Programme and its research programmes.

For example, the Commission allocated funds (by the European Parliament) for a preparatory action to promote the appropriate use of antimicrobials in human medicine: the ARNA project (Antimicrobial Resistance and causes of non-prudent use of antibiotics in human medicine).

Since 2005, the Executive Agency for Health and Consumers (CHAFEA) manages calls for proposals for projects and organises grants, conferences and relations with the beneficiaries of health programme funding.

The Directorate General for Research and Innovation has also given a significant financial support to a number of projects aiming to tackle de global problem of AMR.

Furthermore, within the scope of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) - a partnership between the EU (through the Commission) and the European pharmaceutical industry - funds are also being allocated to research on antimicrobial resistance.