Two new rotavirus vaccines are expected to be introduced in the European Union (EU) in coming years. A human rotavirus vaccine has already been licensed in several countries worldwide, and a pentavalent bovine vaccine has been submitted for licensure in the United States and the EU. Few data exist on the burden of rotavirus disease and its associated costs within the EU. To estimate the burden of rotavirus disease in the EU, we adapted a model based on the approach developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the European situation and applied it to recent population and mortality data from European countries. Country-specific estimates were added to obtain a global estimate of rotavirus episodes treated at home, clinic visits, hospitalization and death. We estimate that 3.6 million episodes of rotavirus disease occur annually among the 23.6 million children younger than 5 years of age in the EU. Every year, rotavirus accounts for 231 deaths, >87,000 hospitalizations and almost 700,000 outpatient visits. Rotavirus disease constitutes a large public health burden in the EU. Except for deaths, the burden of disease is not dissimilar to that in the developing world. Country-specific studies are required to more accurately understand the burden of disease caused by rotavirus. With the introduction of new rotavirus vaccines in sight, rotavirus gastroenteritis may be regarded as the single most frequent vaccine-preventable disease among children in the EU.