Laboratory capacity and capability

This image describes the targets of the EULabCap scheme

ECDC aim to strengthen the capability and capacity of the EU public health microbiology system to provide the timely and reliable information that underpins infectious threat detection, assessment and surveillance at Member State and EU level for effective prevention and control of infectious diseases.

EU Laboratory Capability Monitoring System (EULabCap)

The primary goal of the EU laboratory Capability Monitoring System is to assess public health microbiology vulnerabilities, identifying priorities and monitoring the impact of capacity building activities and system reforms at national and EU level on essential public health functions provided by microbiology laboratories.

The tool combines 60 indicators (grouped in 12 targets each comprising 5 indicators) on three public health dimensions:

  • Dimension 1 - primary diagnostic testing (targets1.1-1.4)
  • Dimension 2 - national microbiology reference laboratory (NRL) services (targets 2.1-2.4)
  • Dimension 3 - surveillance and epidemic response support (targets 3.1-3.4)

Aggregated indices have been calculated for each target and dimension as the average of component indicator scores, adjusting all index values on a scale of 0—10.

Contact us at:

EULabCap maps

Levels of public health microbiology system capabilities and capacities (aggregated EULabCap index)

The average EULabCap aggregated index score was 7.5 on a scale of 0-10 in 2016 for the 30 participating EU/EEA countries

Target 1.1 - Provision and regulation of clinical microbiology services

Provision of reliable, quality-assured, safe and fully-accessible clinical diagnostic microbiology services is a prerequisite for adequate case ascertainment and surveillance/threat notification systems.

Target 1.2. Diagnostic testing guidelines

Availability of national primary diagnostic and screening testing guidelines (e.g. who to test, how to test, and when to test) is a prerequisite to guarantee sufficient sensitivity for case ascertainment and surveillance/threat notification systems.

Target 1.3. Diagnostic testing utilisation

Awareness of national testing practices provides a basis for monitoring sensitivity of case ascertainment and surveillance/notification systems.

Target 1.4. Antimicrobial drug susceptibility testing

Implementation and monitoring of compliance with EU standards for antimicrobial drug susceptibility testing is a prerequisite for accurate and comparable EU surveillance of antimicrobial resistance, in accordance with EU strategy on AMR.

Target 2.1. Provision and regulation of NRL microbiology services

Organisation, regulation, and funding of national reference laboratory infrastructure and core public health functions are key elements for informing surveillance and epidemic preparedness at national and EU levels, in accordance with NMFP consensus.

Target 2.2. Reference diagnostic confirmation and pathogen identification

Availability of national reference laboratory testing capability and capacity and a robust sample referral and reporting system to the national authorities is a prerequisite for effective surveillance and epidemic preparedness at national and EU levels in accordance with NMFP consensus.

Target 2.3. Molecular typing for surveillance

Development and implementation of harmonised methodologies to integrate molecular typing data into surveillance for priority diseases form a prerequisite for informing public health action based on EU-wide risk assessment of disease transmission.

Target 2.4. Antimicrobial drug resistance characterisation and monitoring

Accurate characterisation and monitoring of antimicrobial resistance determinants across human and animal populations for national/EU-wide surveillance informs public health action to contain cross-border and cross-species transmission of multidrug-resistant pathogens.

Target 3.1. Support to national surveillance networks

National surveillance networks connecting clinical/public health laboratories for reporting diagnostic information to surveillance databases and linking microbiological and epidemiological information are essential for efficient communicable disease and drug resistance surveillance and early infectious threat detection.

Target 3.2. Active participation in EU/EEA disease networks

Active participation and collaboration between experts in EU disease networks promotes exchange of best practice and capacity building, which foster sufficient collective capacity in the EU for threat detection, investigation, disease surveillance and epidemic preparedness.

Target 3.3. National outbreak response support

Preparation and involvement of the national reference laboratory capacities and staff in outbreak monitoring and response activities in collaboration with clinicians, epidemiologists, and microbiologists ensure the effective contribution of laboratory testing to support epidemic detection and control.

Target 3.4. (Re)-emerging disease laboratory preparedness and response support

Up-to-date diagnostic capability for rare and (re)-emerging diseases and effective channels for collaboration are critical for laboratory preparedness and the deployment of timely and reliable emergency response to national and cross-border events.


Latest news


EU Laboratory capacity up by 13% over the past 5 years

News story -



Detection and characterisation capability and capacity for SARS-CoV-2 variants within the EU/EEA

Technical report -

ECDC has mapped the detection and characterisation capability and capacity for SARS-CoV-2 variants across the EU/EEA. This is the fifth laboratory capacity survey since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2019.

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tuberculosis laboratory services in Europe

Jan 2021 - Eur Respir J - 57(1)

V. Nikolayevskyy, Y. Holicka, D. van Soolingen, M. J. van der Werf, C. Ködmön, E. Surkova, D. Hillemann, R. Groenheit and D. Cirillo


An overview of the rapid test situation for COVID-19 diagnosis in the EU/EEA

Technical report -

According to EU recommendations, timely and accurate COVID-19 laboratory testing is an essential part of the management of COVID-19 for slowing down the pandemic, supporting decisions on infection control strategies and patient management at healthcare facilities, and detecting asymptomatic cases that could spread the virus further if not isolated.