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Clean bathing in Europe this summer - 02/06/2008

Swimmer coming out of the sea

Holidaymakers can take to the water with confidence as most bathing areas in Europe meet the quality requirements.

Summer is on its way, and millions of holidaymakers are preparing to descend on Europe's beaches. But how clean is the bathing water? This week the commission published its yearly bathing water quality report, and the news is encouraging. Some 95% of coastal sites and 89% of rivers and lakes now meet the legal quality requirements.

Over 21 000 areas were checked in 2007, and fewer sites were withdrawn from national lists this year than last. This is good news but the EU is still keen to insist that member countries continue to clean up pollution at source rather than withdrawing sites which do not measure up.

Bathing water is tested every year for physical, chemical and bacteriological pollutants. EU law lays down minimum standards to be respected by national governments, and additional criteria for countries who want to go even further.

If you want to be sure your holiday destination makes the grade, check out the annual reports and the interactive maps on the commission's bathing water site.

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