Cyprus, Greece, France and Malta have Europe’s cleanest beaches.
Good news for the millions of Europeans heading to the shore this summer. The vast majority of Europe’s beaches are clean enough for swimming. The same goes for lakes and rivers where swimming is authorised (or at least tolerated).
The commission’s annual report on bathing water quality says some 96% of beaches and 92% of rivers and lakes met the EU’s minimum standards for cleanliness in 2008. That’s a slight improvement over 2007.
Overall, the cleanest water was found in Cyprus (98.2%), Greece (97.7%), France (96.3%) and Malta (94.3%). Five countries tested clean at more than 80% of sites: Italy, Finland, Sweden, Portugal and Germany.
More than 21 400 areas were checked in 2008, 75 more than the year before. Two-thirds were on the coast and the rest were along rivers and lakes.
The water is tested for physical, chemical and bacteriological pollutants. EU law lays down minimum standards to be met by national governments, and additional criteria for countries that want to go even further. Nearly 89% of beaches and 70% of lakes and rivers complied with the strictest standards.
Italy has more coastal swimming sites than any other country in the EU, followed by Greece, France, Spain and Denmark – in that order. Germany and France have the most inland sites.