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A European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance

A European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance



Communication (COM(2017) 339 final) — Fighting Antimicrobial Resistance


  • It launches a new action plan to fight antimicrobial* resistance* (AMR) which was called for in June 2016 Council conclusions and builds upon the previous 2011-2016 Commission action plan against AMR.
  • As resistant bacteria may spread from animals to humans and vice-versa, the action plan is based on a one-health approach — a holistic approach that recognises that human and animal health are interconnected. It involves tackling the AMR challenge from various perspectives including public health, food safety, environment, research and innovation, international cooperation, animal health and welfare.
  • The action plan’s ultimate goal is to preserve the possibility to treat infections in humans and animals effectively. It provides the means for continued, more extensive action to reduce the emergence and spread of AMR and to increase the development and availability of new effective antimicrobials both inside and outside the EU.


There are 3 strands to the action plan:

Making the EU a best practice region

  • The evaluation of the 2011-2016 action plan highlighted that achieving this objective would require better evidence, coordination, surveillance and control measures. This strand therefore involves the European Commission focusing on key areas with EU-added value* and helping EU countries to set-up, implement and monitor their national one-health action plans against AMR.
  • The Commission is supported in its tasks by the EU scientific agencies, such as the European Food Safety Authority, the European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The work of these agencies will include providing scientific expertise on infection prevention, biosecurity measures and control practices in human healthcare and in animal husbandry in order to reduce infections and thus the need for antimicrobials.
  • EU actions will focus on the areas with the highest added value for EU countries, such as:
    • promoting the prudent use of antimicrobials;
    • enhancing interdisciplinary work;
    • improving infection prevention; and
    • consolidating surveillance of AMR and antimicrobial consumption.

These actions will nevertheless respect the limits of EU competence and the fact that EU countries remain primarily responsible for defining their health policies.

Boosting research, development (R&D) and innovation

  • The action plan aims to boost R&D and innovation. It will seek to further incentivise innovation, provide valuable input for science-based policies and legal measures to combat AMR and address knowledge gaps such as the role of AMR in the environment.
  • The Commission will work in partnerships with EU countries and industry, including small and medium enterprises, to address AMR in bacteria, fungi and parasites. Special attention will be given to the World Health Organization priority list of pathogens as well as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria and neglected infectious diseases.
  • Efforts will focus on improving knowledge on effective infection control surveillance including new diagnostics, and developing new or alternative therapeutics and vaccines.

Shaping the global agenda

  • In today’s interconnected world, people and goods move widely and policies implemented in one region of the world can have an important impact elsewhere.
  • The EU works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), which has agreed the Global Action Plan on AMR, the global blueprint for AMR activities. EU interventions at global level were recognised as having positive impacts in the evaluation of the 2011 action plan. Continued effort is necessary and this will take the form of:
    • greater EU involvement in the work of multilateral organisations such as the WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Organization for Animal Health;
    • stronger bilateral partnerships with trade partners, EU neighbourhood countries, or countries with association agreements with the EU (e.g. Turkey);
    • cooperation with developing countries where the AMR threat to public health is higher, with a correspondingly greater social and economic burden;
    • developing a global research agenda on AMR.


Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a growing threat that is responsible for 25,000 deaths and a loss of €1.5 billion in the EU every year. Levels of AMR are rising even faster at global level due to:

  • the frequent overuse and misuse of antimicrobials both in human and veterinary medicine;
  • the lack of new antimicrobial medicines available or in the development pipeline to challenge new resistant microbes;
  • poor hygiene practices and insufficient prevention measures against infections.

With rising AMR, there is a risk that many of the medical advances of the last century will be lost. If action is not taken to slow the emergence of AMR, to increase the supply of new antimicrobials and to improve awareness across the board, the impact will be felt at fundamental levels, across societies and healthcare systems.


Antimicrobial: substances that inhibit the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. They include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiprotozoals.
Antimicrobial resistance: the ability of microorganisms, to become increasingly resistant to an antimicrobial to which they were previously susceptible. AMR is a consequence of natural selection and genetic mutation.
EU-added value: value that is additional to the value created by the actions of individual EU countries. It may result, for example, from coordination gains, greater effectiveness or complementarities.


Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament – A European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) (COM(2017) 339 final, 29.6.2017)


Council conclusions on the next steps under a One Health approach to combat antimicrobial resistance (OJ C 269, 23.7.2016, pp. 26-30)

Commission staff working document — Synopsis report accompanying the document communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament — A European One-Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) (SWD(2017) 240 final, 29.6.2017)

last update 25.01.2018