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European Pharmacopoeia

The European Union supports the European Pharmacopoeia, which was drawn up by the Council of Europe. The objective of this institution is to harmonise national laws on the manufacture, circulation and distribution of medicines in Europe.


Council Decision 94/358/EC of 16 June 1994 accepting, on behalf of the European Community, the Convention on the elaboration of a European Pharmacopoeia.


On 22 July 1964 Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom signed a Convention, drawn up under the aegis of the Council of Europe, on the elaboration of a European Pharmacopoeia.

The objectives are to harmonise specifications for medicinal substances of general interest to the population of Europe and to hasten the drawing-up of specifications for the growing number of new medicinal substances appearing on the market.

These objectives are met by creating a European Pharmacopoeia comprising monographs which become official standards applicable in the territories of the countries which are Contracting Parties to the Convention.

On 16 November 1989 a Protocol to this Convention was signed in order to enable the European Community to accede to it. It entered into force on 1 November 1992.

The European Pharmacopoeia currently has 37 European members, including the European Union (EU). The 36 member countries are:

  • the EU-15, namely Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom;
  • three of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries, namely Iceland, Norway and Switzerland;
  • the twelve new Member States of the EU, namely Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania;
  • the three EU candidate countries, namely Croatia, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia;
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro.

The European Pharmacopoeia also has 21 observers, including the World Health Organisation (WHO). The 20 observer countries are:

  • seven European countries, namely Albania, Republic of Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine;
  • thirteen non-European countries, namely Algeria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Israel, Madagascar, Malaysia, Morocco, Senegal, Syria, Tunisia and the United States.

The elaboration of the European Pharmacopoeia is undertaken by two bodies:

  • the European Pharmacopoeia Commission, which prepares and adopts the technical decisions relating to monographs. It comprises eminent scientists appointed by each Contracting Party and chosen for their competence in certain fields;
  • the Public Health Committee of the Council of Europe, which exercises administrative authority over the Commission's activities and sets the date of application of the monographs but cannot interfere with their technical content.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 94/358/EC16.6.1994-OJ L 158 of 25.6.1994


Directive 2001/83/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 November 2001 on the Community code relating to medicinal products for human use (l21230) [Official Journal L 311 of 28.11.2001].

Directive 2001/82/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 November 2001 on the Community code relating to veterinary medicinal products (l21231) [Official Journal L 311 of 28.11.2001].

Last updated: 04.06.2008

See also

Further information: European Pharmacopoeia.

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