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.

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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 -



EU Laboratory Capability Monitoring System (EULabCap): Report on 2016 survey of EU/EEA country capabilities and capacities

Technical report -

This report for 2016, which presents the indicator results for EU and EEA (European Economic Area) countries, aims to help policymakers identify possible areas for action and to evaluate the impact of capacity strengthening activities and health system reforms.

2016_EULabCap report - EN - [PDF-8.68 MB]


External quality assessment scheme for Bordetella pertussis serology 2016

Technical report, External quality assessment -

This external quality assessment (EQA) to assess the ability of national reference laboratories from EU/EEA Member States to correctly perform laboratory serodiagnostic tests for pertussis was a collaborative study organised from February to April 2016.


EU/EEA capacity for the surveillance of hepatitis B and C using molecular methods

Technical report -

In order to explore whether the current capacity for EU/EEA-wide molecular characterisation for surveillance of HBV and HCV is sufficient to be feasible and what gaps need to be addressed, a survey of EU/EEA Member States was conducted to assess their laboratory capacity and needs in relation to the molecular characterisation of hepatitis B and C.

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Candida auris: Epidemiological situation, laboratory capacity and preparedness in European Union and European economic area countries, 2013 to 2017

Jan 2018 - Euro Surveill. - 23(13)

Kohlenberg, A., Struelens, M.J., Monnet, D.L., Plachouras, D., Apfalter, P., Lass-Flörl, C., Muchl, R., Presterl, E., Willinger, B., Catry, B., Philipova, I., Budimir, A., Hadjihannas, L., Arendrup, M.C., Märtin, P., Jalava, J., Berger-Carbonne, A., Dromer, F., Kurzai, O., Vrioni, G., Kontopidou, F., Kiss, K., Kurcz, A., Ásmundsdóttir, L.R., Burns, K., Moro, M.L., Dimina, E., Valinteliene, R., Perrin, M., Barbara, C., de Greeff, S., Kacelnik, O., Deptula, A., Rodrigues, M.R., Serban, R., Schréterová, E., Stefkovicova, M., Serdt, M., Alastruey-Izquierdo, A., Pemán, J., Byfors, S., Chryssanthou, E., Borman, A., Brown, C., Guy, R., Johnson, E., Reilly, J.


Gap analysis on securing diphtheria diagnostic capacity and diphtheria antitoxin availability in the EU/EEA

Technical report -

This gap analysis demonstrated that there are significant gaps in diphtheria diagnostic capacity within the EU/EEA, with only six Member States fulfilling the minimum criteria in terms of surveillance, specialised laboratory diagnostics and expertise.