European Commission calls for urgent action on antimicrobial resistance

@European Union, 2018 Photo: Mauro Bottaro@European Union, 2018 Photo: Mauro Bottaro

Tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a top priority for the Commission and an integral part of many actions under the European Health Union. Ahead of the European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD), new data published today by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) shows some overall progress between 2019-2022 towards the target to cut antimicrobial use by 20% by 2030. 

Although the overall longer-term use of antibiotics fell across the EU/EEA between 2019 and 2022, consumption increased again in 2022, as many Europeans resumed their pre-COVID-19 pandemic way of life. A study carried out by the OECD, for the European Commission, warns that AMR costs EU/EEA countries around €11.7 billion a year. If every EU/EEA country invested €3.40 per capita annually on AMR interventions in the human health and food sectors, they could prevent more than 10 thousand deaths, avoid over 600 thousand new infections and save more than €2.5 billion for their health systems every year. 

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Tackling AMR is a public health priority and an economic necessity. The figures are concerning, showing that urgent and ambitious action is needed. We must work together, Member States, stakeholders as well as citizens to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to meet the agreed targets.”  

AMR is also a key component of the revision of pharmaceutical legislation tabled last spring, in line with the Council Recommendation on stepping up EU actions to combat AMR in a One Health approach. For example, in June 2023, EU Health Ministers endorsed a Commission proposal on actions to combat AMR and agreed to a target to cut the consumption of antimicrobials in humans by 20% and halving overall EU sales of antimicrobials used for farmed animals and in aquaculture by 2030.