The Council paves the way for Europe to become the leading region in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

UM – 07/2019

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the major cross-border health threats requiring joint action in the EU. On 14 June this year, the Council of the European Union (EU) outlined the steps it considers necessary to make the EU a best-practice region in the fight against AMR.

It is based on the current European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance adopted by the European Commission on 29 June 2017. Unlike its predecessor from 2011 to 2016, the One Health Action Plan targets not only antibiotic resistance but also antivirals, antifungals and antiprotozoals in humans, animals and the environment (see article July 2017).

Urgent action needed

The Council is still very concerned. There are 33,000 deaths a year in the European Union as a result of infections resistant to antibiotics. According to estimates by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), AMR could cost EUR 1.1 billion per year if not countered effectively and AMR rates increase in line with OECD forecasts. An increase in the number of deaths would then be inevitable. In addition, 75% of cases of diseases from infections with resistant pathogens are directly related to healthcare-associated infections. In addition to the serious consequences for human and animal health, this also has a negative impact on the environment, food production and economic growth.

The Council specifically points to the need for greater cooperation between Member States, the Commission and the pharmaceutical industry. The market failure in antibiotic development is of great concern. There is a need for EU and global coordination and cooperation on research programmes and incentives. Investment in public health interventions could significantly reduce the burden on society.

New impetus needed

The role of vaccination should not be underestimated, which is why research and development of new vaccines for pathogens associated with antibiotic resistance must be supported. The success of the global fight against AMR depends to a large extent on a new impetus from cooperation between EU institutions and Member States in international bodies, but also regional and bilateral collaboration.

The Council calls on the Commission to continue to support Member States in the implementation of multi-sectoral National Action Plans and national strategies and to increase the funding allocated to them. Member States are encouraged to consider further regulatory measures, where appropriate, to further restrict over-the-counter sale of antimicrobials.