While the European Parliament is making comprehensive demands, the Member States in the Council are rendering overly stringent requirements less strict

UM – 06/2023

On 1 June, the European Parliament adopted by a large majority a resolution on taking action against antimicrobial resistance (AMR). 525 Members of Parliament (MEPs) voted in favour, 33 abstained and only two MEPs voted against. By its resolution, the European Parliament wants to demonstrate decisiveness. Should the measures recommended to the Member States prove insufficient, additional EU legislative measures would have to be taken.

Using antibiotics prudently

By its resolution, the European Parliament urges EU countries to implement their action plans to combat antimicrobial resistance. There are doubts about their sustainability, which is why they are to be updated every two years in future. The prudent use of antibiotics must be a priority within the framework of the action plans. Gaps in the monitoring of antimicrobial resistance should be closed. Infection prevention and control should be strengthened through various measures. In particular, MEPs also call on countries to ensure the target of 20 per cent reduction in antibiotic consumption by 2030 set out in the proposal for a Council Recommendation to step up EU action on AMR under the "One Health" approach. In addition, education and training for the health professions should be intensified with regard to AMR and their prudent use.

On the contrary, the European Commission is to set up an EU-wide database on AMR and the use of antimicrobials for human and animal health and the environment.

No to antimicrobial infection prevention

Together, the European Commission and the Member States should pool financial resources for a pull incentive system that increases the number and speed of antibiotic supply by "pulling" new products through the system from marketing authorisation to loss of patent protection, for example through a state-guaranteed return on investment. In addition, sufficient funds will be allocated for research into alternative treatments, including bacteriophages, and relevant research data will be shared. For the health of food-producing animals, farmers should be educated about alternative methods to prevent infectious diseases and the ban on prophylactic administration of antimicrobials should be fully enforced.

Council recommendation becomes less stringent

The parliamentarians' approach is detailed and comes up with almost 60 demands. In contrast to the Council Recommendation, which is now close to being finalised - it is to be adopted in the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) as early as 13 June – the resolution includes the areas of animal fattening and medicine as well as the environment more extensively than the Council recommendation does. With reference to the successes in the veterinary sector in recent years, including the "farm to fork" strategy, the European Commission deliberately focused on the area of human health. The current documents from the Council suggest that the countries do not want to be put on such a tight leash with regard to the ambitious targets for reducing antibiotic consumption by 2030 as originally intended by the European Commission. It is not mandatory to achieve the reduction values specified in the annex to the draft – but only desirable.