This paper summarises the views of a European group of scientists involved in the control of bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV), as part of a European Union Thematic Network. The group concludes that the technical tools and the knowledge needed to eradicate BVDV are at hand, as proven by successful national control schemes in several European countries. A generic model for BVDV control is presented, which includes biosecurity, elimination of persistently infected animals and surveillance as central elements. These elements are termed 'systematic', in contrast to control efforts without clear goals and surveillance to evaluate progress. The network concludes that a systematic approach is needed to reach a sustainable reduction in the incidence and prevalence of BVDV in Europe. The role of vaccines in systematic control programmes is considered as an additional biosecurity measure, the effect of which should be evaluated against cost, safety and efficacy. It is also concluded that active participation by farmers' organisations is a strong facilitator in the process that leads up to the initiation of control, and that public funding to support the initiation of organised BVD control programmes can be justified on the basis of expected wider societal benefits, such as animal welfare and reduction in the use of antibiotics. If applied successfully, the focus on biosecurity in systematic BVD control programmes would also reduce the risk of the introduction and spread of other epizootic and zoonotic agents, thereby improving both cattle health and welfare in general, as well as increasing the competitiveness of the cattle industry.