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25th Feb 2024

Fresh EU rules to boost bathing water quality

The European Parliament has hammered out a revised set of rules for monitoring the quality of EU bathing water.

The new law paves the way for stricter criteria to evaluate the conditions of rivers, lakes and seasides, based on the newest scientific research.

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  • First check the quality of the water on the internet (Photo: European Commission)

Under the directive set to come into force in 2013, European citizens will be able to check the quality of water in the resorts they are planning to visit on the internet or at the actual bathing locations.

MEPs adopted the new law on Wednesday (18 January) by a huge majority of 584 votes in favour, 11 against and 56 abstentions, following three years of wrangling between EU lawmakers and member states.

The main point of their division was how to balance the need to improve health standards on the one hand, and avoid administrative and financial burdens on the other.

A particular issue that emerged in the negotiations was a new category of intermediate or "sufficient" quality and standards which should be applied to it, as opposed to higher-rated "excellent" and "good" quality categories.

The MEPs finally adopted tougher reference values for the new category than originally proposed by the national governments, both for inland and coastal waters.

The Dutch parliamentary rapporteur Jules Maaten argues the outcome of the final vote, as agreed at the so-called conciliation legislative stage, brings along rules with "less bureaucracy, less risk and more information."

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