The study also found that 39 per cent of the cases were caused by infections with bacteria resistant to last-line antibiotics such as carbapenems and colistin.
The "burden of infection" - measured in the number of cases, attributable deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) - of these superbugs is equivalent to that of flu, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which conducted the research. This has led to the development of superbugs - bacteria that have become resistant to the main antibiotics used against them - which present a major threat to global healthcare.
The study looked at 16 antibiotic resistant bacteria, rather than all AMR infections, so the figures are likely to underestimate the true toll, said experts. It added that due to variations in the numbers of cases and the types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria causing infection in different countries, prevention and control measures need to be tailored to national situations.
The mortality burden was highest in Italy and Greece, with Italy alone accounting for more than a third of all European Union superbug deaths in the year studied.
In the study period, more than 10,000 people died in Italy from bugs including E-coli and MRSA, something the team said was significant "even if one considers its large an ageing population".
Infants and the elderly were most at risk, with three quarters of infections contracted in hospitals and health clinics.
Nearly two in five cases are caused by bacteria that are resistant to even the strongest antibiotics. These are the last treatment options available and when they no longer work it is extremely hard or, in many cases, impossible to treat infections. It added: "When these are no longer effective, it is extremely hard or, in many cases, impossible to treat infections".