Europe to become a pioneer in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

MS/FL – 11/2018

In conjunction with European Antibiotic Awareness Day, the Commission has published the results of a new Eurobarometer study on the public’s knowledge of antibiotics and overall trends in their use. According to the study, 32% of respondents said they had taken antibiotics in the past 12 months. In the 2009 survey, it was 40%. However, antibiotics were used unnecessarily in many cases: for example, 20% of antibiotics were taken to treat the flu or a cold. 7% of respondents took antibiotics without a prescription. 66% knew that antibiotics do not help with colds. 43% were aware that antibiotics do not work against viruses. More than two-thirds of respondents would like to be better informed about antibiotics.


In response to these results, Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said:

‘This Eurobarometer shows that more effort is needed to raise awareness and knowledge on antimicrobials among fellow citizens.’

New EU legislation on veterinary medicinal products and medicated feed

On 25 October 2018, the European Parliament voted by a large majority in favour of a regulation on the more restrictive use of antibiotics in veterinary medicinal products. The proposed European legislation on veterinary medicinal products and medicated feed provides for a wide range of specific measures to combat antimicrobial resistance and promote the prudent and responsible use of antimicrobials.

From 2022, it will be prohibited in the EU to use antimicrobials to promote the growth of animals and to administer antimicrobials prophylactically via medicated feed or prophylactically to groups of animals. Thirdly, when importing into the EU, third countries must respect the ban on antimicrobials as growth promoters and the restrictions on antimicrobials reserved for human consumption.

The aim of the new EU legislation is to better protect European consumers from the risk of antimicrobial resistance arising from the import of animals or products of animal origin.

Health policy spokesman of the EPP Group, Peter Liese (CDU), stated:

‘The other major part of the problem is the non-critical use of antibiotics in human medicine and hospital hygiene. Europe must take responsibility for this. For example, we urgently need new incentives to develop new antibiotics, and it is very unfortunate that the European Commission has still not put forward a proposal for this.’


Given that antimicrobial resistance poses a major threat in Europe and globally, international cooperation is of paramount importance. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 25,000 people die every year in the European Union due to antibiotic-resistant germs. Calculations carried out by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Europe, North America and Australia show that by 2050, 2.4 million people could die from multidrug-resistant bacteria or other bacteria. The WHO has already warned that antibiotics will be ineffective in the near future if their use is not more controlled.

The German Environment Agency is also concerned. The Agency considers it to be a major issue that both antibiotics and resistant germs could be released into the environment, in particular through the use of fertilisers. These could then enter the human organism via food or bathing water.


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