The two closely linked specialties of clinical microbiology and infectious diseases face important challenges. We report the consensus of clinical microbiologists and infectious disease physicians assembled by the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Both specialties have different training requirements in different European countries and are not universally recognised as professions. The specialties are rapidly evolving as they adapt to the changing demands within hospital practice, including the need to deal with emerging infections, rapidly increasing internationalisation, and immigration. Clinical microbiology needs to develop and master technological advances such as laboratory automation and an avalanche of new methods for rapid diagnostics. Simultaneously, the pressure for concentration, amalgamation, and out-sourcing of laboratory services is ever-increasing. Infectious disease physicians have to meet the professional challenge of subspecialisation and the continual need to find new niches for their skills. Despite these challenges, each of these specialties continues to thrive in Europe and will enjoy important opportunities over the next few years. The recently formed European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm, Sweden, will increase demands in areas of surveillance of infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance on both specialties.