Today, the European Commission is launching an online public consultation to gather views on the revision of the EU rules on bathing water. The Bathing Water Directive aims to prevent and reduce pollution in bathing water to levels that are no longer harmful to human health and the environment, and is the EU’s main tool to protect the health of Europeans when bathing. Proper implementation of this Directive contributes to reaching the objectives of the European Green Deal, and in particular the Zero Pollution Action Plan and the EU Biodiversity Strategy.
The public consultation aims to collect a wide range of views and feedback, including from Europeans who value the quality of bathing water, national and local authorities, stakeholders, and experts from academia who are involved in implementing EU bathing water policy.
Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius, said:
Clean bathing water is important for all Europeans, whether you live by the coast or on an island, or visit these areas on holiday. Thanks to EU rules, 82.8% of Europe’s bathing water sites are now of excellent quality. But we can do even better to reduce the pollutants released into bathing waters. I invite you all to share your views on how we can improve our rules and for our bathing waters to be healthy, safe and clean.
The ongoing review of the Bathing Water Directive will analyse whether the parameters and the classification of bathing water sites are still relevant. It will also assess emerging pressures on the environment, changing socio-economic situations and a potential broadening of the scope of the Directive to include recreational water users. It will also examine information provided to the public to make sure it is provided in an adequate and timely manner.
The online consultation will run for 12 weeks until 20 January 2022 (midnight).
The Commission will review the Bathing Water Directive at the beginning of 2023 and, where necessary, amendments will be proposed.
Thanks to the EU’s Bathing Water Directive, the quality of Europe's bathing water has greatly improved over the past years. Effective monitoring and management introduced under the Directive, combined with other EU environmental law such as the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (1991), led to a drastic reduction in untreated or partially treated municipal and industrial waste water ending up in bathing water. As a result, an increasing number of sites have witnessed pollution reduction, leading to considerably improved water quality.
All EU Member States, plus Albania and Switzerland, monitor their bathing sites according to the provisions of the EU's Bathing Water Directive.
The legislation specifies if the bathing water quality can be classified as 'excellent', 'good', 'sufficient' or 'poor', depending on the levels of faecal bacteria detected. Where water is classified as 'poor', EU Member States should take measures, such as: banning bathing or advising against it, providing information to the public and taking appropriate corrective actions. The most recent Report on the bathing water quality in the EU found that 82.8% of 22 276 bathing sites in the EU have been classified as excellent, and only 1.3% as ‘poor’.
For more information
- Publication date
- 28 October 2021
- Directorate-General for Environment