A new study by the European Environment Agency reveals the European countries with excellent quality of bathing waters for 2020. Cyprus comes at the top of the list while Greece is included in the top five with the countries in Europe with the cleanest waters.
According to the survey of 22,295 controlled areas, 84.6% have excellent water quality. The study covered areas of 27 nations, including Greece.
After almost 3 months of lockdown, European citizens can now have pleasure at beaches, lakes, and rivers.
An analysis by country showed that in five countries – Cyprus, Austria, Malta, Greece, and Croatia – at least 95% of the bathing waters are of excellent quality. Of all the countries monitored, Poland was the only one with less than 50% of bathing waters to be characterized as exceptional.
More specifically, Cyprus that tops the list gained a proportion of 99,1% of excellent quality bathing waters. Austria comes second with 98,5% excellent quality of bathing waters and Malta comes third with 97,7%. Greece is at the 4th place with 95,7% excellent quality of bathing waters and Croatia completes the top 5 with 95,6%.
Germany (6th place) with 92,5%, Portugal (7th place) with 91,5%, Spain (8th place) with 88,4%, Italy (9th place) with 88,4% and Denmark (10th place) with 88,4% complete the top 10 European countries with excellent quality of bathing waters for 2020.
The European Environment Agency says the quality of bathing water is generally better in coastal locations than inland, with 87.4% of coastal swimming areas being classified as excellent, compared to 79.1% inland waters in the EU.
- Cyprus: 99.1%
- Austria: 98.5%
- Malta: 97.7%
- Greece: 95.7%
- Croatia: 95.6%
- Germany: 92.3%
- Portugal: 91.5%
- Spain: 88.4%
- Italy: 88.4%
- Denmark: 88.4%
- Lithuania: 87.2%
- Finland: 86.4%
- Belgium: 85.2%
- Latvia: 82.5%
- Switzerland: 82.1%
- Czech Republic: 81%
- Slovenia: 80.9%
- France: 79.5%
- Sweden: 78.5%
- Romania: 76%
- Netherlands: 74.2%
- Ireland: 72.8%
- Hungary: 70.8%
- Luxembourg: 70.6%
- United Kingdom: 66.1%
- Bulgaria: 65.3%
- Estonia: 63%
- Slovakia: 62.5%
- Albania: 58.8%
- Poland: 21.6%
The percentage of insufficient quality bathing areas in the region is 1.3% of the total number of areas surveyed in Europe. This number has not fluctuated much since 2013, when this figure was 2%, reflecting long-term improvements in the quality of swimming waters in Europe.
The quality of swimming waters in Europe has improved significantly over the last 40 years, when the EU directive on bathing waters was issued. Effective monitoring and management under the directive, in conjunction with other EU environmental legislation, such as the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (1991), has led to a drastic reduction in untreated or partially treated municipal and industrial waste ending up in bathing waters. As a result, more and more areas are not only meeting minimum standards, but have also improved their quality to meet the highest possible standards. In parallel with this year’s report, the EEA also published an updated interactive map with the performance of each swimming area.
The results of the evaluation published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Commission are a good guide for swimmers in order to find the highest quality of bathing waters. However, due to the coronavirus epidemic and the restrictive measures applied across Europe, the public should seek up-to-date information from local and national authorities and coastal businesses on safety measures in swimming areas. The European Commission, in order to help Member States gradually lifts their travel restrictions and allows tourism businesses to reopen after months of forced shutdown while maintaining the necessary health precautions, submitted a package of guidelines on 13th of May.
The Commissioner of Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginius Sinkevicius said: «Clean swimming waters are often seen as a given, but they are in fact one of Europe’s collective achievements. It is the result of the hard work of many people for many years. This year’s report confirms that European citizens can continue to enjoy very high standards of quality when swimming in European waters and that all measures must be taken to continue this process».
The Executive Director of the European Environment Agency Hans Bruyninckx, said: «Regular monitoring and evaluation of bathing waters is essential to ensure that high quality is already maintained throughout Europe and, where necessary, we take effective measures tackling water pollution. The cleanest bathing waters benefit not only our health and well-being, but also the health of the environment».
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