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European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control


Regulation (EC) No 851/2004: establishing a European centre for disease prevention and control



  • It establishes a European centre for disease prevention and control (ECDC).
  • It sets out ECDC's mission which is to
    • identify,
    • assess and
    • communicate both existing and emerging threats to human health posed by infectious diseases.
  • It lays down the centre's structure, its bodies and its working arrangements.



ECDC's mission is to identify, assess and communicate current and emerging threats to human health posed by communicable diseases.

To meet these goals, it:

  • searches for, collects, collates, evaluates and disseminates relevant scientific and technical data;
  • provides independent scientific opinions and scientific and technical assistance, including training;
  • provides information to the European Commission, EU countries, EU agencies (such as the European Food Safety Authority and the European Medicines Agency) and international organisations working in the field of public health (e.g. the World Health Organization);
  • coordinates the networking of organisations operating in the areas that fall within its remit and manages dedicated surveillance networks;
  • exchanges information, expertise and best practices and facilitates the development and implementation of joint actions.


ECDC's main tasks are:


ECDC comprises:

  • A management board composed of:
    • 1 member for each of the 28 EU countries (1), as well as for Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway,
    • 2 members designated by the European Parliament and
    • 3 members representing and appointed by the Commission.

The board ensures that ECDC carries out its mission and tasks by adopting its programme of work and financial rules.

  • A director, assisted by a small core staff. The director is responsible for ECDC's day-to-day administration drawing up and implementing its work programme;
  • An advisory forum composed of representatives of the competent national authorities. It serves as a mechanism to exchange information on health threats and to pool knowledge.

Disease programmes

The ECDC disease-specific work is organised into 7 horizontal programmes:

Public Health Microbiology programme

In addition to its disease-specific programmes, ECDC has a Public Health Microbiology Programme. This aims to strengthen the capacity of expert and reference laboratories in Europe and foster collaboration between them.


Through the Media Centre on its website, ECDC ensures that the public are rapidly given objective, reliable and easily accessible information with regard to its activities and the results of its work.


It entered into force on 20 May 2004.


Communicable diseases can present a serious threat to people's health because they can spread throughout the globe in a very short time. The EU created ECDC to enable it to react effectively and promptly in the event of epidemics (such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

ECDC has been operational since May 2005 and is based in Stockholm (Sweden).


Regulation (EC) No 851/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 establishing a European centre for disease prevention and control (OJ L 142, 30.4.2004, pp. 1–11)

last update 11.01.2016

(1) The United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union and becomes a third country (non-EU country) as of 1 February 2020.