EU: Baden allowed

Report confirms good water quality on lakes and coastlines

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The quality of bathing water in the 25 Member States of the European Union almost always complied with the hygiene rules last year. This is clear from the 2006 report of the European Commission. The report shows that on the coast, 96% (%) and on river banks and lakes, 89% of the beaches met the water quality requirements.

In 2006, a total of 21, 094 bathing waters were investigated; this is a slight increase over the previous year. Of these, about 14, 345 were coastal waters and 6, 749 were inland waters.

Although the number of bathing areas that have been removed from the official list has declined compared to previous years, the EU Commission still considers this practice to be of concern. She fears that in some cases this would cover up environmental problems and artificially improve the results without tackling the very root of the problem. Therefore, it has launched infringement procedures against eleven Member States, including Germany.

"It is encouraging that, in 2006, in terms of inland waters, the percentage of bathing areas complying with the rules increased again from the disappointing results of 2005. I hope that this positive trend will continue and we will soon be able to show the same values ​​for inland waters as for coastal areas. Despite these encouraging results, however, I am very concerned that so many bathing areas have been removed from the official list. It is not enough simply to remove areas from the list due to pollution. Member States must develop plans to eliminate these pollution, "said EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.

Need to catch up with inland waters

For coastal waters, the percentage of sites that meet mandatory values ​​remains unchanged at 96.1%. The results show that inland waterways partly offset the 2005 deterioration. The binding values ​​were complied with in 2006 in 88.6% of the areas, compared to 85.7% in the previous year. display

According to the report, the areas in which the stricter guidelines were adhered to rose slightly in 2006, to 63.8%, compared with 63.1% in the previous year. In 2006, Member States deleted 88 coastal areas and 166 freshwater bathing areas from the national lists of sites that comply with the requirements of the Directive.

Better water quality in the old Member States

The percentage of bathing areas that complies with the rules remains higher in the old Member States than in the new ones, the report said. In 2006, however, this percentage declined slightly in the old Member States, rising by about 25 percentage points in the new Member States. Two years after the accession of the new Member States to the EU, the percentage of competing territories is 94.9% for coastal waters and 81.2% for inland waters (compared to 96.2% and 90.0% respectively) the old Member States).

Each year Member States must draw up a report on the quality of the bathing areas of their coastal and inland waters. Bathwaters are areas in which bathing is expressly allowed, or which are traditionally used by many bathers and where bathing is not prohibited. For the determination of quality, the waters are analyzed on the basis of a set of physical, chemical and microbiological parameters for which the Bathing Waters Directive sets mandatory values.

On 6 April last year, the EU Commission sent a first written warning to Germany, as certain bathing areas were no longer included in their official lists, thus circumventing EU regulations. The deletion of bathing areas from the official lists must be duly justified as this measure must not be a reaction to pollution. Germany has already responded by declaring the deletion of the already designated bathing areas. This is currently being tested by the EU Commission.

(EU Commission, 01.06.2007 - DLO)