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Antibiotic resistance

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Antibiotic resistance

The purpose of this resolution is to develop a common strategy and coordinated action to combat antibiotic resistance.


Council Resolution of 8 June 1999 on antibiotic resistance: a strategy against the microbial threat [Official Journal C 195 of 13.07.1999]


Antibiotic resistance is a major European and global health problem. Antibiotic resistance increases morbidity and mortality due to communicable diseases, which leads to a diminution in the quality of life and also to additional health and medical care costs.

Antibiotics are indispensable in combatting infectious diseases and it is therefore imperative to preserve the effectiveness of those medicinal products which are still effective.

Antibiotic resistance and its various causes need a multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach. National initiatives are not enough to reduce the risks and to effectively prevent micro-organisms from becoming resistant to antibiotics used in human and veterinary medicine and in animal feedingstuffs, nor can they preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics in the treatment of infectious diseases. A common strategy and coordinated action are required at Community and international levels.

Bearing in mind the global dimension of this problem, the Member States and the Commission must actively promote the aims of this resolution in international organisations, in particular in the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the International Office of Epizootics (OIE).

According to the Council, the overall strategy should be based on risk assessment using established scientific findings and comprise coordinated control and preventive action (for example in relation to surveillance of antibiotic resistance in humans, animals and foodstuffs and its effects, infection control in health care and infection control in animal production, development of new therapeutic and preventive medicaments, etc) and research work (notably on the effects of preventive measures, the development of new antibiotics and alternatives, the best use of antibiotics, determinants which increase the risk of emergence of antibiotic resistance, mechanisms of the spread and development of antibiotic resistance, or best farming practice so as to improve animal health).

In the context of this strategy, Member States are called upon:

  • to establish multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral policies in order to facilitate the containment of the spread of antibiotic resistance;
  • to cooperate in order to enable an effective comparable monitoring of the supply and use of antibiotics and an effective comparable surveillance of antibiotic resistance;
  • to maintain the principle of antibiotics authorised as human and veterinary medicine being "prescription-only-medicines" and to ensure vigilance on the implementation of this principle;
  • to promote adherence to the principles of infection control both in hospitals and non-hospital care as well as in animal production;
  • to promote optimal prescribing and use of antibiotics (through professional education, guidelines, etc.) and to prevent their unnecessary and inappropriate use in human and veterinary medicine;
  • to promote actions aimed at raising the awareness of health professionals, farmers and the general public of the problem of antibiotic resistance;
  • to promote health orientated animal production systems, thus reducing the need for antibiotics;
  • to promote research in this area;
  • to cooperate closely with the Commission, in particular in the aforementioned areas.

The Commission is invited:

  • to include as a priority the surveillance of antibiotic resistance in human medicine and in the field of zoonosis control and to promote - through the Community network for the epidemiological surveillance and control of communicable diseases - the complementarity of this surveillance;
  • to ensure, on the basis of comparable data provided by Member States, the reporting, including conclusions, on the supply and use of antibiotics in particular in human and veterinary medicine as well as in animal feeding, horticulture and other agricultural productions and foodstuffs;
  • to support the exchange of experience and information concerning the rational usage of antibiotics by appropriate Community activities;
  • to promote research work in the implementation of the Fifth Research Framework Programme with regard to the evolution of antibiotic resistance within bacterial populations and the understanding of the transmissibility of resistant bacteria in humans, animal populations and the environment;
  • to consider the advisability of preparing a proposal for a Recommendation in accordance with the Treaty;
  • to examine the necessity of reviewing current Community legislation in the areas of human and veterinary medicine;
  • to pay particular attention to the problem of antibiotic resistance in specific health actions related to applicant countries, in particular in the framework of the Phare 2000 programme.

The Commission should promote cooperation in close coordination with the Member States and the competent international organisations.

Last updated: 04.05.2006