The informal agreement was reached this week by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), the Latvian Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the European Commission.
The draft EU law, on diseases that are transmissible among animals and potentially to humans too, will merge and update many scattered items of old legislation, so as to help prevent and halt new outbreaks and keep pace with scientific progress.
The regulation is expected to be formally adopted before the end of 2015, after the final procedures including the legal-linguistic revision of the text, are completed. It will become applicable 5 years after its entry into force.
"After 40 years of fighting for animals in Europe, I can finally see the finishing line.
"This law will be an important toolbox for the future", said Norwegian MEP Marit Paulsen, who steered the legislation through the Parliament and headed Parliament's negotiating team.
"The new Animal Health Law will establish the first ever link between animal welfare and public health in EU law, and will be an important tool for fighting antimicrobial resistance in humans, animals and the environment."
The new rules will put more emphasis on prevention, in line with Parliament's long-standing position.
All farmers and other animal owners and traders will be obliged to apply the principles of good animal husbandry and a prudent, responsible use of veterinary medicines.
"This would make it considerably more difficult to use antimicrobials as an "umbrella" to cover bad animal husbandry in the future," said Ms Paulsen.
As a part of the deal, the Parliament, the Commission and the Council issued a joint statement calling on EU member states "to collect relevant, comparable and sufficiently detailed data on the actual use of antimicrobial medicinal products in animals and to send such data to the Commission”, which should then publish them regularly.
To tackle emerging diseases that could have a “highly significant impact” on public health, agricultural production or animal welfare and health, the law will empower the Commission to take urgent measures immediately.
Both the EU Parliament and the Council will be involved in establishing and updating a list of potentially dangerous diseases, such as African swine fever, avian influenza or foot and mouth disease, in consultation with European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) experts.
In addition, to tackle the problem of strays transmitting animal diseases, MEPs inserted provisions that would require all professional pet keepers and sellers to be registered and empower the Commission to ask EU member states to establish a computer database of dogs and other pets, if need be.
Commenting on the announcement Reineke Hameleers, Director of animal welfare organisation Eurogroup for Animals said: “Eurogroup has worked hard to get this result and I am proud to say that thanks to our advocacy efforts and the support of key actors in the EU institutions, every animal holder in Europe will need to follow good animal husbandry and use medicine in a prudent and responsible way.
“In addition to acknowledging the important role of veterinarians and pet owners in caring for animals, the new law will ensure that disease control measures take animal welfare into account, sparing animals any avoidable pain, distress or suffering."