Full text 
Texts adopted
PDF 100kWORD 45k
Thursday, 12 May 2011 - Strasbourg Final edition
Antibiotic resistance

European Parliament resolution of 12 May 2011 on antibiotic resistance

The European Parliament ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 May 2008 on a new animal health strategy for the European Union 2007-2013(1) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 May 2010 on an evaluation and assessment of the Animal Welfare Action Plan 2006-2010(2) ,

–  having regard to Directive 2003/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the monitoring of zoonoses and zoonotic agents and Regulation (EC) No 2160/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the control of salmonella and other specified food-borne zoonotic agents,

–  having regard to the Joint Opinion on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) focused on zoonotic infections by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Medicines Agency (EMEA), and the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), EFSA Journal 2009; 7(11):1372,

–  having regard to Oral Question (O-000048/2011 – B7-0304/2011) to the Commission of 1 March 2011 on antibiotic resistance,

–  having regard to the WHO report on ‘The Medical Impact Of the Use of Antimicrobials In Food Animals’,

–  having regard to its resolution on the proposal for a Council recommendation on the prudent use of antimicrobial agents in human medicine(3) ,

–  having regard to Rules 115(5) and 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an animal health issue for the European livestock sector especially when treatment failure occurs; whereas, guidelines on the prudent use of antimicrobials have already been issued in several Member States, which has led to a reduction in the usage of antimicrobials,

B.  whereas the livestock sector (dairy, beef meat, pig and poultry meat, eggs, sheep and goat milk and meat production) plays a major role in the European agricultural economy,

C.  whereas farmers' primary goal is to keep their livestock healthy and productive through good agricultural practices (hygiene, proper feed, appropriate husbandry, responsible animal health management),

D.  whereas, despite the measures taken by farmers, animals can still get sick and need to be treated,

E.  whereas antimicrobials, when used properly, is a useful tool to help farmers to keep their livestock healthy and productive and to assure the wellbeing of the animals,

F.  whereas the European livestock farming sector needs to rely on the safety and the efficacy of antimicrobial treatments for the future,

G.  whereas the administration of antimicrobials to animals as well as to humans needs to take into account the potential threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR),

H.  whereas a considerable part of antimicrobials is prescribed for use in animals and AMR affects both humans and animals and can also pass from both humans to animals and animals to humans, this is a truly cross-cutting matter which calls for a coordinated approach at community level,

I.  whereas antimicrobial resistance in humans is often caused by inadequate doses of antibiotic medicines, by incorrect treatments and through the constant exposure of pathogens to antimicrobial agents in hospitals,

J.  whereas transmission of pathogenic bacteria carrying AMR genes constitutes a special threat to people, such as farmers and farm workers, who are in a daily contact with animals,

K.  whereas animals at high densities may encourage higher disease rates; whereas inappropriate use of antimicrobials in animals generally may be considered a risk factor for the emergence of resistance with public and animal health consequences,

L.  whereas the role of animals, of food of animal origin, and of resistant bacteria occurring in animal husbandry in the transfer of AMR to humans and the potential dangers resulting thereof may not be sufficiently clear,

M.  whereas the use of antimicrobials in sub-therapeutic levels for prolonged periods generally creates a greater risk of AMR developing and/or being amplified and spreading, compared to therapeutic treatments,

N.  whereas the use of antimicrobials in sub-therapeutic levels is prohibited in the EU,

O.  whereas a reduced use of antimicrobials would, in the long run, result in lower costs both for the farmers and for the society at large, provided that the efficiency of antimicrobials is maintained,

P.  whereas the excessive and inappropriate use of biocides may also contribute to AMR,

Q.  whereas chemical decontamination of carcases of slaughter, which is illegal in Europe, may also contribute to AMR,

R.  whereas food may be emerging as an important vector for transmitting AMR,

S.  whereas non food-producing animals, such as companion animals, may also serve as reservoirs and facilitate the transmission of AMR, recalling the extra label use of antimicrobial drugs intended for human medical use,

T.  whereas a modern animal husbandry without the possibility to use any antimicrobials to treat diseases seems unfeasible today, a good animal health and a rational and responsible use of antimicrobials would contribute to the prevention of the spread of AMR,

U.  whereas antimicrobial resistance in animals differs between different species and different forms of animal husbandry,

V.  whereas the European Parliament in its resolution of 5 May 2010 on an evaluation and assessment of the Animal Welfare Action Plan 2006-2010, underlined the link between animal health and public health and urged the Commission and the Member States to address the growing problem of AMR in animals in a responsible manner,

W.  whereas, in particular, the European Parliament called on the Commission to collect and analyse data on the use of animal health products, including antimicrobials, with a view to ensuring the effective use of such products,

Joint data collection activities

1.  Welcomes the efforts made by the Commission and its agencies as regards joint data collection activities in this field, in particular the initiative in 2009 to create ESVAC (European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption); regrets that not all Member States have yet joined the ESVAC network and calls on more countries to do so; calls on the Commission to provide the ESVAC network with sufficient financial resources to perform its tasks; calls on the Commission to without delay provide an adequate legal framework in order to give Member States the authority to perform an efficient data collection;

2.  Calls on the Commission to strive for a data collection which is harmonised and comparable, also with activities undertaken in third countries such as the United States;

3.  Recognises that the proper collection and analysis of comparable data as regards the sales of veterinary agents - and the subsequent use of such products on animals - is an important first step; stresses the need to get a full picture of when, where, how and on which animals the antimicrobials are actually used today, without creating additional financial or administrative burdens for farmers or other animal owners;

4.  Underlines that data must not only be collected, it must also be properly analysed and the findings put into practice, and the necessary actions taken both on EU and Member State level; also taking into consideration the differences between animal species and forms of animal husbandry;

5.  Recognises that such data must be put into context as farming practice and intensity is different from one Member States to another;


6.  Calls for more research to be performed on new antimicrobials as well as other alternatives (vaccination, bio security, breeding for resistance) and evidence based strategies to avoid and control infectious diseases in animals; underlines the importance of EU's Research Framework Programmes in this respect; stresses in this context the importance of developing systems for animal husbandry which reduce the need for antimicrobials to be prescribed;

7.  Calls for the research resources from the human and the veterinary side to be better coordinated, by creating a network of existing research institutes;

8.  Calls for research into the role of animals, food of animal origin, sustainable production systems including robust breeds, longevity of animals, improved herd management, early disease prevention, exercise and access to free range and lower stocking densities and other conditions ensuring the biological needs of the animals are met; and the resistant bacteria occurring in animal husbandry in the transfer of AMR to humans and the potential danger resulting thereof;

Monitoring and surveillance

9.  Calls on all Member States to perform regular systematic surveillance and monitoring of AMR in both food producing animals and companion animals, without creating additional financial or administrative burdens for farmers or other animal owners or veterinarians; stresses the need for harmonised data, including information on risk factors, to be easily available from a single access point; stresses the need for annual reports from Member States containing data enabling a European wide comparison;

10.  Calls on the future budgets for the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to reflect the increased need for further inspections and analyses in this field;

11.  Calls on all stakeholders to acknowledge their responsibility for preventing both the development and the spread of AMR, each in their own area of activity such as veterinary medicine and animal husbandry;

12.  Suggests that harmonised monitoring of AMR in indicator bacteria (such as E.coli and E. enterococci) should be established according to scientific advice;

Maintained efficiency of antimicrobials

13.  Emphasises that the ultimate objective is to maintain antimicrobials as an effective tool to combat disease, both in animals and in humans, while keeping the use of antimicrobials to the strict necessary;

14.  Calls for a prudent and responsible use of antimicrobials in animals and for more information to veterinarians and farmers to minimise the development of AMR; calls for the exchange of best practices such as the acceptance of guidelines on the prudent use of antimicrobials as important tools to combat the development of AMR;

15.  Calls for the establishment of good practices for animal husbandry, which minimise the risk for AMR; emphasises that these practices should in particular apply to young animals which are brought together from different breeders and thus increase the risk of communicable diseases;

16.  Calls on the Member States and the FVO to ensure a better control over the implementation of the ban (2006) on antimicrobials being used as growth promoters;

17.  Calls on the Commission to work towards an international ban on antimicrobials as growth promoters in animal feed, and to bring this matter up in its bilateral negotiations with third countries such as the United States;

18.  Calls on the Commission to assess and monitor how the Member States are implementing and applying the relevant existing European legislation on antimicrobials;

19.  Calls on the Commission to develop a broad multi-annual action plan against AMR in the framework of the EU animal health strategy; believes that such an action plan should cover all animals under the EU animal welfare strategy, including companion animals, and emphasise the logical connection between animal health and the use of antimicrobials, as well as the link between animal health and human health;

20.  Believes that this action plan should include a detailed review of the different ways in which antimicrobials are used prophylactically, in order to settle controversy over what is a routine prophylactic and what is an acceptable prophylactic;

21.  Whereas processed animal proteins from non-ruminants show intrinsic animal health and nutritional benefits, which could make a significant contribution to balanced diets for monogastric animals including farmed fish and at the same time contributing to a reduced use of antimicrobials, asks the European Commission to lift the current restrictions under conditions which would ensure a maximum level of food safety;

o   o

22.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ C 279 E, 19.11.2009, p. 89.
(2) OJ C 81 E, 15.3.2011, p. 25.
(3) OJ C 112 E, 9.5.2002, p. 106.

Last updated: 8 November 2012Legal notice