Following the European Union (EU) Council Recommendation on prudent use of antimicrobial agents in human medicine in 2001, and the success of national campaigns, i.e. Belgium and France, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) decided to establish the European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) on 18 November as platform to support national campaigns across Europe. This article provides an overview of EAAD tools, materials, and activities developed during the first five years. It shows that EAAD has been successful due to good cooperation between ECDC and national institutions, strong political and stakeholder support and evidence-based development of campaign materials. EAAD has provided a platform for pre-existing national campaigns and encouraged similar campaigns to develop where neither political support had been secured, nor financial support had been available. As a result, participating countries have continuously expressed strong support for ECDC to continue its work on EAAD. This has been endorsed by a steadily increasing number of countries participating and the growing interest of varied professional and stakeholder organisations. We conclude that EAAD should continue to act as catalyst for discussion and as mechanism to raise awareness of the public and prescribers about prudent use of antibiotics.