The harmonisation of training programmes for infection control and hospital hygiene (IC/HH) professionals in Europe is a requirement of the Council recommendation on patient safety. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control commissioned the 'Training Infection Control in Europe' project to develop a consensus on core competencies for IC/HH professionals in the European Union (EU). Core competencies were drafted on the basis of the Improving Patient Safety in Europe (IPSE) project's core curriculum (CC), evaluated by questionnaire and approved by National Representatives (NRs) for IC/HH training. NRs also re-assessed the status of IC/HH training in European countries in 2010 in comparison with the situation before the IPSE CC in 2006. The IPSE CC had been used to develop or update 28 of 51 IC/HH courses. Only 10 of 33 countries offered training and qualification for IC/HH doctors and nurses. The proposed core competencies are structured in four areas and 16 professional tasks at junior and senior level. They form a reference for standardisation of IC/HH professional competencies and support recognition of training initiatives.