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REPORT     ***I
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7 October 2003
PE 331.644 A5-0335/2003
on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive concerning the quality of bathing water
(COM(2002) 581 – C5‑0508/2002 – 2002/0254(COD))
Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy
Rapporteur: Jules Maaten
PROCEDURAL PAGE
 DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON REGIONAL POLICY, TRANSPORT AND TOURISM

PROCEDURAL PAGE

By letter of 24 October 2002 the Commission submitted to Parliament, pursuant to Article 251(2) and Article 175(1) of the EC Treaty, the proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive concerning the quality of bathing water (COM(2002) 581 – 2002/0254 (COD)).

At the sitting of 7 November 2002 the President of Parliament announced that he had referred the proposal to the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy as the committee responsible and the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market and the Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism for their opinions (C5‑0508/2002).

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy appointed Jules Maaten rapporteur at its meeting of 27 November 2002.

The committee considered the Commission proposal and draft report at its meetings of 8 July 2003, 9 September 2003 and 1 October 2003.

At the last meeting it adopted the draft legislative resolution by 26 votes to 21, with 5 abstentions.

The following were present for the vote: Caroline F. Jackson, chairman; Mauro Nobilia, Alexander de Roo and Guido Sacconi, vice-chairmen; Jules Maaten, rapporteur; María del Pilar Ayuso González, María Luisa Bergaz Conesa, Jean-Louis Bernié, Hans Blokland, David Robert Bowe, Hiltrud Breyer, Philip Bushill-Matthews (for John Bowis), Niels Busk (for Astrid Thors), Dorette Corbey, Chris Davies, Avril Doyle, Anne Ferreira, Karl-Heinz Florenz, Pernille Frahm, Cristina García-Orcoyen Tormo, Françoise Grossetête, Cristina Gutiérrez Cortines, Roger Helmer (for Marialiese Flemming, pursuant to Rule 153(2)), Marie Anne Isler Béguin, Christa Klaß, Eija-Riitta Anneli Korhola, Bernd Lange, Peter Liese, Giorgio Lisi (for Martin Callanan), Caroline Lucas (for Patricia McKenna), Torben Lund, Minerva Melpomeni Malliori, Jorge Moreira da Silva, Rosemarie Müller, Riitta Myller, Giuseppe Nisticò, Ria G.H.C. Oomen-Ruijten, Béatrice Patrie, Marit Paulsen, Fernando Pérez Royo, Wilhelm Ernst Piecyk (for Kathleen Van Brempt, pursuant to Rule 153(2)), Frédérique Ries, Yvonne Sandberg-Fries, Karin Scheele, Ursula Schleicher (for Robert Goodwill), Inger Schörling, Renate Sommer (for Emilia Franziska Müller), María Sornosa Martínez, Catherine Stihler, Antonios Trakatellis, Peder Wachtmeister and Phillip Whitehead.

The opinion of the Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism is attached. On 3 December 2002, the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market decided not to deliver an opinion.

The report was tabled on 7 October 2003.


DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive concerning the quality of bathing water (COM(2002) 581 – C5‑0508/2002 – 2002/0254(COD))

(Codecision procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2002) 581)(1),

–   having regard to Articles 251(2) and 175(1) of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C5‑0508/2002),

–   having regard to Rule 67 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy and the opinion of the Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism (A5‑0335/2003),

1.   Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.   Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendments by Parliament
Amendment 1
Recital 3

EU policy on the environment shall aim at a high level of protection, and contribute to pursuing the objectives of preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment and of protecting human health.

EU policy on the environment shall aim at a high level of protection of human health, and contribute to attaining the objectives of preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment and of protecting human health.

Justification

Obviously, the primary aim of the Directive is to protect human health.

Amendment 2
Recital 7

This Directive should use scientific evidence in implementing the most reliable indicator parameters for predicting bacteriological health risk and achieve a high level of protection.

This Directive should use scientific evidence in implementing the most reliable indicator parameters for predicting bacteriological, physical and chemical health risks and achieve a high level of protection.

Justification

The physical and chemical risks cannot be ignored as they clearly affect the quality of bathing water.

Amendment 3
Article 1, paragraph 1

For the purpose of preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment and of protecting human health this Directive lays down provisions for the monitoring and classification of bathing water quality and for providing information to the public thereof.

The purpose of this Directive is to preserve, protect and improve the quality of the environment and to protect human health against chemical and microbiological contamination during bathing activities or other recreational water uses. Therefore this Directive lays down health standards, provisions for the monitoring, classification and management of bathing water quality and for providing information to the public thereof.

Justification

The overall objective presented in the Commission’s proposal focuses solely on process requirements and leaves the objectives much too vague. This Directive should protect humans from chemical and microbiological threats. The Commission’s proposal effectively sets only microbiological health standards. It is therefore necessary to mandate the EU water quality standard setting process under the Water Framework Directive to consider human health aspects. This is to ensure comprehensive health protection.

Amendment 4
Article 1, paragraph 2

It shall, with particular emphasis on environment and health, complement objectives and measures set out in Directive 2000/60/EC.

It shall, with particular emphasis on environment and health, complement and support objectives, measures and the setting of common chemical quality standards as laid down in Directive 2000/60/EC.

Justification

See Amendment 3.

Amendment 5
Article 2, paragraph 4 a (new)
 

(4a)   waters used for other recreational activities undertaken more than 100 metres from the shore at low tide, or conducted outside of the bathing season, provided that such waters are not at particular risk of pollution from urban waste water and/or other sources of pollution.

Justification

The norm is that if the water close to the shore is clean, the water further out is usually of the same standard. However, if urban waste water is discharged through pipes far out into the water in order to avoid polluting the water close to the shore, there is need to incorporate those waters in the Directive. This would protect surfers, windsurfers and kayakers from pollution and provide people practising those sports with important information.

Amendment 6
Article 3, paragraph 1, point (a)

(a)   bathing is not prohibited and is traditionally practised by a large number of bathers, or

(a)   Bathing is not prohibited and is traditionally practised by a large number of bathers during the bathing season, or

Justification

Self evident

Amendment 7
Article 3, paragraph 1, point (a) a (new)
 

(   aa)    other ´recreational activities´ are traditionally practised, provided that such waters are at particular risk of pollution from urban waste water and/or other sources of pollution, or

Justification

The norm is that if the water close to the shore is clean, the water further out is usually of the same standard. However, if urban waste water is discharged through pipes far out into the water in order to avoid polluting the water close to the shore, there is need to incorporate those waters in the Directive. This would protect surfers, windsurfers and kayakers from pollution and provide people practising those sports with important information.

Amendment 8
Article 3, paragraph 3, point (h)

(h)   giving information on bathing water quality to the public;

(h)   giving factual information on bathing water quality to the public;

Justification

It is vital that the public receives the factual information, so that they fully understand the quality of the bathing water.

Amendment 9
Article 3, paragraph 4

“Other recreational activities”: those activities, where devices are used to move across the water, involving a meaningful risk of swallowing water, such as surfing, windsurfing and kayaking.

deleted

Justification

The mentioned activities in question are carried out either in the immediate vicinity of the bathing beach or further out, where there are no bathers. They also take place outside the bathing season proper when the water is colder than is usually used for bathing. If there are no problems with the quality of the water in the vicinity of the bathing beach and during the bathing season, it will be as good if not better further out and during the colder weather.

Amendment 10
Article 3, paragraph 5

(5)   "Transitional waters" and "coastal water" have the same meaning as under Directive 2000/60/EC.

(5)   "Surface waters", "transitional waters" and "coastal water" have the same meaning as under Directive 2000/60/EC.

Justification

All categories of waters should be defined in line with the water framework directive.

Amendment 11
Article 5, paragraph 1

1.   Within two years of the entry into force of this Directive, Member States shall establish a list of waters, identified as bathing water.

1.   Within two years of the entry into force of this Directive, Member States shall establish a list of all bathing waters in their territory and the corresponding length of the bathing season.

Justification

Taking into account the differences in climate between the Member States, the competent authorities of the Member States are better able to establish the list and the length of the bathing season.

Amendment 12
Article 6, paragraph 1

Member States shall ensure that a bathing water profile is established for each bathing water in accordance with Annex III. The first bathing water profile shall be established within three years following the date laid down in Article 22 (1).

Member States shall ensure that a bathing water profile is established for each bathing water in accordance with Annex III. The first bathing water profile shall be established within three years following the date laid down in Article 22 (1). In the intervening period the measures laid down in Directive 76/160/EEC shall apply.

Justification

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 13
Article 7, paragraphs 4 and 5
Does not apply to English version.
Amendment 14
Article 12, paragraph 2, point (c)

(c)   in the event of any imminent risk to public health, disseminate to those members of the public who may be affected all the relevant information that is held by a public authority and which could help the public to prevent or mitigate harm;

(c)   in the event of any imminent risk to public health, disseminate to those members of the public who may be affected all the relevant information that is held by a public authority and which could help the public to prevent or mitigate harm, and impose a temporary ban on bathing;

Justification

Public health must be protected by means of the prompt provision of information to the general public and a temporary ban on bathing should the quality of the water deteriorate to a level which may pose a threat to bathers' health.

Amendment 15
Article 12, paragraph 2, point (d) a (new)
 

(da)   In the event of an emergency situation, temporary signage must be posted in prominent locations at the bathing water.

Justification

Without some sort of framework authorities will interpret the need to communicate information in different ways, leading to inconsistencies.

Amendment 16
Article 13, paragraph 1, point (b) a (new)
 

(ba)   the water status objectives are achieved in accordance with the criteria, classification and deadlines laid down in Directive 2000/60/EC.

Justification

There is no good reason to separate human health and environmental protection and management. Therefore it would be necessary to link the achievement of relevant WFD objectives with the achievement of good bathing water quality. Bathing waters, which do not achieve the objective of good chemical status, as laid down in the WFD – because the fail to meet the chemical standards set at EU or Member States level - cannot be regarded as safe for bathing. It would be difficult to understand and to explain to citizens why a bathing water, which fails to achieve good chemical status, because of exceeding standards for dangerous chemicals, like the health damaging atrazin or dichlorethan, could be classified as good quality.

Amendment 17
Article 13, paragraph 2, point (a)

(a)   management measures have been undertaken during the bathing season, to prevent human exposure to pollution/contamination and to reduce or eliminate the risk of pollution/contamination, and

(a)   management measures, including bathing bans, have been undertaken during the bathing season, to prevent human exposure to pollution/contamination and to reduce or eliminate the risk of pollution/contamination, and

Justification

Express reference should also be made to bathing bans as measures to protect the public, since, in practice, all Member States have already been applying them for years.

Amendment 18
Article 13, paragraph 2, point (d)

(d)   the public is informed of the causes of the pollution/contamination and all measures undertaken.

d)   the public is informed by a clear and simple warning sign and additionally of the causes of the pollution/contamination and all measures undertaken.

Justification

"and additionally" is an addition to the rapporteur's Am. 18. This will make sure that the public also will be informed on the causes of pollution/contamination.

Amendment 19
Article 13 a (new)
 

Article 13 a (new)

 

Conformity and Control of Transitory Contamination

 

1.   Member States may decide to apply the provisions of this Article to bathing waters affected by transitory contamination

 

2.   Bathing Water shall be considered to be affected by transitory contamination if it is affected by contamination that results in short periods during which the quality of the water is worse than the value of parameters 1 and 2 in column C of Annex I.

 

3.   If bathing water is affected by transitory contamination, the cause of which is known and the timing of which can be predicted, and the conditions in paragraph 4 are met:

 

(a)   Member States shall exclude from sets of water quality data non-compliant samples taken from the bathing water during the periods of transitory contamination,

 

(b)   the bathing water shall be given the classification it would be given but for the transitory contamination.

 

4.   The conditions referred to in paragraph 3 are that:

 

(a)   implementing remedial measures would infringe other Community legislation, be disproportionate or be infeasible, and

 

(b)   appropriate measures are taken during the bathing season to notify the public whenever transitory contamination affecting the bathing water is expected or occurring and that, during any period of transitory contamination, bathing is prohibited or advised against.

 

5.   If bathing water is affected by transitory contamination, the cause of which is not known or the timing of which cannot be predicted, and the conditions in paragraph 6 are met, the bathing water shall be considered to conform with this Directive.

 

6.   The conditions referred to in paragraph 5 are that

 

(a)   the bathing water is classified as “poor” only because it is affected by transitory contamination,

 

(b)   the Member State is undertaking the measures in paragraph 7 below, and

 

(c)   the measures are leading to progress in the understanding or control of the transitory contamination.

 

7.   The measures referred to in paragraph 6 are:

 

(a)   measures to understand the cause of transitory contamination or improve predictability

 

(b)   remedial measures, unless they would infringe other Community legislation, be disproportionate or be infeasible

 

(c)   measures to inform the public about the current understanding of the cause and predictability of the transitory contamination, and the management and remedial measures being undertaken, and

 

(d)   appropriate measures during the bathing season to notify the public that the water may be subject to transitory contamination and periods when bathing is prohibited or advised against

 

8.   In determining whether it is disproportionate to implement remedial measures for transitory contamination, the following shall be taken into account:

 

(a)   the nature, likely frequency and duration of the transitory contamination;

 

(b)   the cost, technical feasibility and environmental impact of such measures

 

(c)   any guidance provided by the Committee established under Article 20; and

 

(d)   any other relevant factors

 

9.   Member States shall ensure that the bathing water profile for any bathing water affected by transitory contamination includes the following information:

 

(a)   details of the transitory contamination to the extent allowed by current understanding including its anticipated cause, frequency, nature, and scope

 

(b)   details of any measures being undertaken to understand the cause or improve the predictability of transitory contamination,

 

(c)   details of any remedial measures being undertaken, and

 

(d)   any reasons why it would infringe other Community legislation, be disproportionate or infeasible to eliminate the sources of transitory contamination, including factors taken into account to evaluate the proportionality of eliminating any remaining sources of transitory contamination.

 

10.   The measures taken by Member States to notify the public about transitory contamination under this Article shall be at least as extensive as the requirements under Article 16.

Justification

This introduces two systems of measures to deal with periods of transitory contamination, which are short periods during which the water quality does not meet the microbiological standards for “good” status.

1.   It provides that a bathing water can retain the quality status it would have but for transitory contamination if the cause of the transitory contamination is known, the timing can be predicted and the public is appropriately notified. The conditions of use for this system would limit it to those transitory contamination episodes where it would be disproportionate to implement remedial measures. In such a case, non-compliant samples are to be disregarded for monitoring purposes. This allows Member States to remain in conformity with the Directive if the water quality would otherwise be “good” or better.

2.   It also provides that if the cause of transitory contamination is not known or cannot be predicted, then so long as measures are being taken which are leading to progress in the understanding or control of the transitory contamination, the water is classified as “poor” but remains in conformity with the Directive. There is also provision for public information to ensure health protection for bathers.

The two systems also provide for the bathing water profile to contain the relevant information in relation to transitory contamination

Amendment 20
Article 15

Member States shall ensure that all interested parties are consulted and allowed to participate in establishing, reviewing and updating the list of bathing waters, bathing water profile and the management measures.

Member States shall ensure that all interested parties, including those at local level, are consulted and allowed to participate in establishing, reviewing and updating the list of bathing waters, bathing water profile and the management measures. Member States inform the Commission and the public on the way(s) this is organised.

Justification

The proposed idea will increase the information flow aiming to improve the efficiency of public participation in all member states.

Amendment 21
Article 16, paragraph 1, point (a)

(a)   a non-technical summary of the bathing water profile and the bathing water classification over the last 3 years;

(a)   a non-technical summary of the bathing water profile and the bathing water classification over the last 3 years, including the status of the bathing water according to Directive 2000/60/EC. It shall display prominently a Commission- approved symbol to advise users of the current status of bathing water quality;

Justification

Simple, basic information that will be understood by the public regardless of language differences should be displayed at each bathing water in addition to Members States making available more detailed, technical and non-technical data.

Amendment 22
Article 16, paragraph 1, point (b)

(b)   an assessment as to whether the monitoring data are relevant for other recreational activities;

(b)   an assessment as to whether the monitoring data are relevant for other recreational activities, including an overview of the discharge of urban waste water surrounding the bathing area.

Justification

It is important that the bather has information about where the discharge of urban waste water takes place, so that the bather can decide if he or she wants to swim there.

Amendment 23
Article 16, paragraph 1, point (c)

(c)   in the event of a bathing water being removed from the list of bathing waters a notice advising the public of such a removal and giving the reasons for it, shall be put up in the immediate vicinity of the water during the bathing season of the year that the removal takes place and the following year. Such notice shall also indicate to the public the nearest available bathing water.

(c)   in the event of a bathing area being removed from the list of bathing waters a notice advising the public of such a removal and giving the reasons for it, shall be put up in the immediate vicinity of the water during the bathing season of the year that the removal takes place and the following year. Such notice shall include warning signs at the beach and also indicate to the public the nearest available bathing water.

Justification

If a bathing water has been removed from the list it is important that the bather is informed about it.

Amendment 24
Article 16, paragraph 1, point (c) a (new)
 

(ca)   In the event of an emergency, public authorities must work together with all interested parties to ensure that the public are informed of any potential hazards clearly and coherently via temporary signage on location at the bathing site.

Justification

Information to the public is important. The authorities can use the expertise of interested parties.

Amendment 25
Article 16, paragraph 2

2.   Member States shall use appropriate media and technologies, such as the Internet, to actively and promptly disseminate the information concerning bathing water referred to in paragraph 1 and also the following information:

2.   Member States shall use appropriate media and technologies, including the Internet, to actively and promptly disseminate the information, including at least English and French translation thereof, concerning bathing water referred to in paragraph 1 and also the following information:

Justification

Standardised warning symbols and information in several languages make the proposal more practicable and useful for all bathers.

Amendment 26
Article 16, paragraph 2, point (a)

(a)   the bathing water’s profile and the bathing water’s classification, including information in relation to other recreational activities,

(a)   the bathing water´s profile and the bathing water´s classification, including information in relation to other recreational activities. Results of water inspection should be available on the internet within a week.

Justification

Standardised warning symbols and information in several languages make the proposal more practicable and useful for all bathers.

Amendment 27
Article 16, paragraph 3

3.   Information referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be made available for the first time three years following the date laid down in Article 22 (1).

3.   Information referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be made available for the first time three years following the date laid down in Article 22 (1). The Commission shall after hearing the Member States, relevant tourist and consumer organisations and other interested parties, within two years develop a simple standardised system of symbols - e.g. smiling faces - which can be used in different matters by Member States, Counties, Municipalities, Tourist Industries etc. as one among other information tools in order to provide information to the public. The system must be available on an EU website.

Justification

Standardised warning symbols and information in several languages make the proposal more practicable and useful for all bathers.

Amendment 28
Article 18 a (new)
 

Article 18a (new)

 

Review

 

The Commission shall review this Directive at the latest 15 years after its entry into force, with particular regard to the parameters for bathing water quality, and shall present appropriate legislative proposals in accordance with Article 251 of Treaty for the review of this Directive.

Justification

Given the synergy of this directive with other directives such as the water framework directive, the urban waste water directive or the nitrates directive, a revision after 15 years is appropriate.

Amendment 29
Article 19, paragraph 1

The methods of analysis for the parameters set out in Annex I may be adapted to scientific and technical progress in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 20(2).

The methods of analysis for the parameters set out in Annex I shall be adapted to scientific and technical progress in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 20(2).

Justification

Since virological-analysis tests have now reached a satisfactory stage of development, the technical aspect of the directive may be updated immediately.

Amendment 30
Article 19, paragraph 2

Scientific results obtained on virus detection may also be integrated, completing the list of parameters in Annex I, in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 20(2).

On the basis of scientific results obtained on virus detection, the list of parameters in Annex I shall be completed with parameters on virus detection, in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 20(2).

Justification

The presence of viruses in bathing water represents a significant risk. It should be mandatory and not optional to include the detection of viruses in this Directive.

Amendment 31
ANNEX I, Parameters for Bathing Water Quality, row 3

Phytoplankton blooms or macro-algae proliferation

Phytoplankton blooms or macro-algae proliferation

Excellent Quality

Excellent Quality Negative result on test

Justification

Simple correction of an omission in the Commission's proposal.

Amendment 32
ANNEX III, The Bathing Water Profile (a) a (new)
 

aa)   a description of the physical, geographical and hydrological characteristics of the bathing water in relation to the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC;

Justification

Self-explanatory

Amendment 33
ANNEX III, The Bathing Water Profile (c)

c)   an assessment of their potential to pollute bathing water, thus impairing the health of bathers. This assessment should be made, in terms of time - accidental or chronic risk potential - and in terms of the nature and volume of all polluting and potentially polluting discharges and their effects assessed in terms of distance from the bathing water.

c)   an assessment of their potential to pollute bathing water, thus impairing the health of bathers, as well as an assessment of the environmental quality of the bathing water according to the Water Framework Directive. This assessment should be made, in terms of time - accidental or chronic risk potential - and in terms of the nature and volume of all polluting and potentially polluting discharges and their effects assessed in terms of distance from the bathing water.

Justification

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 34
ANNEX III, The Bathing Water Profile (c), 2nd paragraph

Elements a) and b) should also be provided on a detailed map.

Elements a) aa) and b) should also be provided on a detailed map. Other relevant information may be attached or included as deemed appropriate.

Justification

. The bathing water profile should be confined to realistic assertions which are genuinely meaningful. The effort involved should be proportionate, particularly for Member States with a large number of bathing waters. Requirements should be worded more clearly. The reference to other recreational activities should be deleted. (See justification for the other relevant amendments).

Amendment 35
ANNEX V, Standards for Handling of Samples, 4, row 2

The sample should be conserved at a temperature of around 4°C, in a cool box or refrigerator (if possible) until arrival at the laboratory. If the transport to the laboratory is likely to take more than 4 hours, then transport in a refrigerator is highly recommended.

The sample should be conserved at a temperature of around 4°C, in a cool box or refrigerator until arrival at the laboratory. If the transport to the laboratory is likely to take more than 4 hours, then transport in a refrigerator is required.

Justification

Due to the rapid decay of bacteria, storage and transport of samples should be standardised as much as possible so as to ensure correct measurements. Temperature needs to be kept at 4°C at all times, otherwise concentrations found may be lower than those actually present in the water

Amendment 36
ANNEX V, Standards for Handling of Samples, 4, row 3

The time between the sampling and the analysis should be kept as short as possible. It is recommended to analyse the samples on the same working day. If this is not possible for practical reasons, then the samples must be processed within maximum 24 hours, provided that the samples are stored in the dark and as close to 4°C as possible.

The time between the sampling and the analysis should be kept as short as possible. It is recommended to analyse the samples on the same working day. If this is not possible for practical reasons, then the samples must be processed within maximum 24 hours, provided that the samples are stored in the dark and at 4°C

Justification

Due to the rapid decay of bacteria, storage and transport of samples should be standardised as much as possible so as to ensure correct measurements. Temperature needs to be kept at 4°C at all times, otherwise concentrations found may be lower than those actually present in the water.

(1)OJ C 45 E 25,.2.2003, p. 149.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Your rapporteur is grateful to the Commission for the new bathing water directive. The original 1976 directive was indeed in need of updating.

The rapporteur has taken up the criticism of the Commission's research, voiced during the initial exchange of views, in order to conduct his own inquiries into the possible problems surrounding the new bathing water directive. Not only has there been consultation of a host of interest groups; rather, a questionnaire has also been sent to the competent Member State authorities. More than 50 replies have been received, providing a good insight into the practical problems surrounding the present directive and the potential problems surrounding the Commission's proposal. The Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee have also carried out excellent work.

The rapporteur has come to the conclusion that a new bathing water directive involving a proactive water policy will have a positive impact on bathing water quality in Europe and on recreational water users' well-being. That is of major significance: Europe's citizens have made it clear that they regard clean bathing water as important. We must therefore ensure that consumer confidence is not disappointed.

However, the directive must be workable and enforceable. Your rapporteur would again point out that the draft is confusing. Many citizens will find it unfathomable, for instance, why a directive which has been patently obviously drawn up with a view to promoting public health should take Article 175 (environment) as its legal basis.

It would be unacceptable if as a result of the new directive, at many officially designated bathing sites in public use for many years, there had to be immediate notification that water quality was inadequate and that sites had to be removed from the list of bathing waters. We must prevent unworkable legislation from being adopted. A host of infringement proceedings are already under way against Member States. A system should preferably be developed which incentivises water management bodies to maintain a maximised quality level.

As already stated, the existing bathing water directive has ensured an improvement in bathing water quality, albeit after much painful effort. In the past, many countries were unable to comply with requirements and therefore invested a great deal in order to be able to do so. Although 1985 was the final year for implementation of the directive, results were not achieved until much later, as signalled in the following overview:

-   1995: 3000 European beaches were non-compliant. 30% of the 1700 bathing water areas did not comply with minimum requirements. Ten years after the time limit, not one Member State met requirements.

-   1996: 90% of coastal beaches met minimum standards; one in three beaches at rivers or lakes was compliant.

-   1997: Germany was prosecuted before the European Court of Justice.

-   1997: 90% of coastal beaches and 80% of inland beaches were compliant.

-   1998: Close to 95% of coastal beaches and 80% of inland beaches met minimum requirements.

-   1998: Spain was prosecuted before the European Court of Justice.

-   1999: Portugal and Finland were prosecuted before the European Court of Justice.

-   1999: France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Italy were not compliant with requirements.

-   2000: France, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Finland and Denmark were not compliant with requirements.

-   2000: 97% of coastal waters and 94% of inland beaches met requirements.

-   2001: Denmark, Belgium, France, Spain and the United Kingdom were not compliant with requirements.

Year

EU coastal waters

EU inland waters

Compliant* (%)

Other° (%)

Compliant* (%)

Other° (%)

1992

84.   9

15.   1

47.   5

52.   5

1993

73.   9

26.   1

29.   7

70.   3

1994

82.   3

17.   7

41.   6

58.   4

1995

85.   3

14.   7

51.   7

48.   3

1996

91.   4

8.   6

68.   9

31.   1

1997

93.   3

6.   7

79.   8

20.   2

1998

94.   6

5.   4

86.   5

13.   5

1999

95.   6

4.   4

90.   5

9.   5

* With the mandatory standards under Directive 76/160/EG

° 'Other' encompasses bathing waters not compliant with standards or insufficiently tested or with a ban on bathing.

Source: European report (courtesy of EIS)

The overview shows that many countries found it very difficult to comply with standards. Fortunately, there has been a considerable improvement in bathing water quality as a result of Member States' investment over the last few years.

The Commission now seeks to raise standards even higher. Accordingly, for a country such as the Netherlands, 30% of bathing waters can no longer be rated 'good'. By raising standards, the Commission seemingly wants to punish Member States for having performed well. Your rapporteur foresees a host of infringement proceedings over the next few years if the proposed new standards are adopted. On the other hand, the challenge of improving bathing water quality even further must be taken up.

Parameters

Since many bathing areas are very likely to be taken out of use as a result of the new parameters, the present values for the two parameters concerned must be maintained. Not only would that head off a large number of infringement proceedings; in addition, it would be hard to persuade the public to accept that bathing waters which used to be rated 'good' now were no longer compliant. That would confuse the bathing public and raise suspicions. No scientific proof has been furnished that the present standards are inadequate. It goes without saying that, as has been indicated by the WHO and the Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment (SCTEE), higher standards should be pursued.

Your rapporteur's inquiries show that countries are entirely willing to comply with standards, but that that is simply not possible in the case of some surface waters. As the Member States have a better overall view of the situation than the Commission, they themselves should identify bathing waters, specifying those which meet the 'excellent' and 'good' standards. That would further increase bathing water quality and prevent a large number of infringement proceedings.

Provision of information

Naturally, Member States must be motivated into seeking improved values. Better provision of information for the public can provide an answer to this. If it can be demonstrated to the public that a particular beach is cleaner than is strictly speaking necessary, i.e. that its quality rating is 'excellent', more holidaymakers will use it. Proper provision of information is therefore highly important.

The Commission correctly concludes that it is important to publish information on bathing water on the Internet. Action at present is highly inadequate. Your rapporteur found it difficult, during his inquiries, to find out in less than 10 minutes how good or bad bathing water in Europe is. Graphics and commentaries were extremely unclear, though it should be pointed out that the information is not complete because a number of Member States have not forwarded the necessary details to the Commission.

That again makes it clear that it is pointless to adopt legislation which, in practise, cannot be complied with by Member States. Consumers ultimately pay for it in that they receive inadequate information or none at all. However, information required must be quickly findable on the Internet: no-one will go surfing there for hours before taking the plunge in real life.

Furthermore, a standard strategy must be devised to give information to the public. It is important that information should be presently succinctly and clearly in a leaflet and in the local media. There is no point in providing a vast array of information that only an expert can understand. Such leaflets can be made available in hotels, on campsites, in restaurants and at bathing sites.

Local authorities can themselves decide whether or not to provide more than the standard information: particular problems may arise locally, such as types of eczema similar to athlete's foot, jellyfish, sea urchins and the like, often cropping up from time to time but having a considerable impact on holidaymakers' well-being. Proper information on the spot, above all, will be important. That can be effectively regulated at national or regional level.

Furthermore, a universally recognisable flag system must be introduced. Local authorities are found to suffer huge losses if the 'blue flag' awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe is withdrawn. This is a greater threat than the imposition of a fine.

Red flag: 'unsatisfactory' bathing water quality
Green flag: 'good' bathing water quality
Orange flag: 'excellent' bathing water quality

To provide comprehensive information, the 12 European Union stars should be added to the flags. The information must indicate current bathing-water quality, not the previous year's quality level, and the Internet address of the website providing information on bathing water quality at that location must be clearly readable on the flag. That makes it clear that it is reliable information from the European Union; that makes it easier, in turn, for tourists throughout the European Union to tell whether they can bathe in safety.

The directive's flexibility

A major problem surrounding the present directive is its inflexibility. Bathing waters for which measurement values are occasionally exceeded are rated 'inadequate', though water quality may normally be good. Indeed, 95% of measurements must now be satisfactory. It is not even possible to take a further sample, which means that a sampling error or an error during analysis can result in bathing waters being declared unfit, though, in reality, nothing may be amiss. Provision must therefore be made for resampling - a second opinion - to give the authorities an opportunity to demonstrate that the water does comply with standards.

It is therefore good that the Commission has proposed making measurements more flexible. The fact that authorities would need to carry out checks less frequently at locations which have been problem-free for many years is to be welcomed.

Occasional deviations from specified limit values ought also to be possible, however, without having implications in the long term for the usability of a body of water as bathing water. It might be the case that taking specific measures is difficult; that might especially be so where a diffuse pollution source is involved (such as agriculture). Good public relations work will ensure that action by the relevant authorities remains transparent, and Member States will be obliged to make an effort to attain the specified quality level.

Possibility for Member States to add parameters

Any measurements for specific substances which a Member State regards as necessary must be possible. In the Netherlands, for instance, there are problems with blue-green algae at certain bathing spots. In some places, this is often a greater problem than bacteriological contamination, and the public must be notified accordingly.

Definition of 'bathers'

As stated above, much has changed radically since 1976. People now use surface water areas differently. Many new water sports have emerged over the last few years, such as kayaking, windsurfing, bodyboarding, etc. As this category of water users is just as much at risk of becoming ill, the definition of 'bathers' must also include them.

Consistency with the Water Framework Directive

To ensure that the bathing water directive ties in well with the Water Framework Directive, your rapporteur has tabled a number of amendments which make sure that objectives, measures and deadlines are mutually consistent.


OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON REGIONAL POLICY, TRANSPORT AND TOURISM

13 May 2003

for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy

on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the quality of bathing water

(COM(2002) 581 – C5-0508/2002 – 2002/0254(COD))

Draftsman: Garrelt Duin

PROCEDURE

The Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism appointed Garrelt Duin draftsman at its meeting of 28 November 2002.

It considered the draft opinion at its meetings of 18 March and 30 April 2003.

At the latter meeting it adopted the following amendments by 22 votes to 15, with 1 abstention.

The following were present for the vote: Rijk van Dam, vice-chairman and acting chairman; Gilles Savary, vice-chairman; Garrelt Duin, draftsman; Sylviane H. Ainardi, Pedro Aparicio Sánchez (for Rosa Miguélez Ramos), Philip Charles Bradbourn, Paolo Costa (for Luciano Caveri), Christine de Veyrac, Jan Dhaene, Alain Esclopé, Giovanni Claudio Fava, Jacqueline Foster, Mathieu J.H. Grosch, Konstantinos Hatzidakis, Georg Jarzembowski, Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Giorgio Lisi, Emmanouil Mastorakis, Enrique Monsonís Domingo (for Dirk Sterckx pursuant to Rule 153(2)), Josu Ortuondo Larrea, Wilhelm Ernst Piecyk, Samuli Pohjamo, Bernard Poignant, Alonso José Puerta, John Purvis (for Rolf Berend pursuant to Rule 153(2)), Reinhard Rack, Carlos Ripoll y Martínez de Bedoya, Ingo Schmitt, Brian Simpson, Ulrich Stockmann, Margie Sudre, Hannes Swoboda (for Ewa Hedkvist Petersen), Joaquim Vairinhos, Daniel Varela Suanzes-Carpegna (for Dana Rosemary Scallon), Christian Ulrik von Boetticher, (for Francesco Musotto), Mark Francis Watts, Brigitte Wenzel-Perillo (for Renate Sommer), Jan Marinus Wiersma (for Danielle Darras).

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

The new Commission proposal on the quality of bathing water is primarily technical in nature and takes account of recent scientific methods and management concepts. With the adoption of the water framework directive in October 2000 the European Union has revised its water policy. So there is now a need to adapt the bathing waters directive to the new conditions.

The current directive dates from 1976. It has been remarkably successful, not only improving bathing water quality throughout the European Union but also raising public awareness of the subject’s importance. Since then there has been considerable progress, as the Commission points out in its explanatory memorandum, with political and legal measures in the field of environmental information and the involvement of the public. And the state of the art and methods of bathing water management have also clearly made progress, which the Commission proposal takes into account.

The proposal has three aims: to protect bathers, introduce the latest scientific methods and reduce costs. We cannot overestimate the importance of good bathing water quality for both public health and the tourist industry. The latter is one of the world’s largest economic sectors. It accounts for up to 5 % of export earnings in the European Union and provides 6 % of employment. This market is likely to grow even more strongly than in the past, which naturally means that solid and liquid waste in tourist areas will also strongly increase. So it is essential for the European Union to adapt its water management to the new circumstances, which is why your draftsman welcomes the proposed directive.

As the Commission points out in its memorandum, new types of leisure activities in and on the water have emerged in the past 25 years. Surfing, windsurfing and kayaking, for instance, are widespread today. Although there are some difficulties involved in fully incorporating these types of sport in the new directive, including the definition of bathing waters, your draftsman believes that failure to do so would conflict with the principles of good water management and the protection of citizens. In this respect the Commission proposal is inconsistent. It says itself, in the memorandum,

‘The Commission has taken the view that it would not be appropriate to include the new recreational uses of water in the definition of bathing waters ...’

but then goes on to say,

‘However, the Commission does consider it appropriate that Member States should improve the level of protection afforded to persons engaging in these newer water sports. To this end, Member States should ensure that relevant information is provided to the public, identifying clearly whether water quality monitoring and other management practices ensure an equal level of protection for practitioners of these sports. This will have an impact on the classification (quality label) which the bathing waters will receive.

For this reason the draftsman is tabling a few amendments with the aim of ensuring that the steadily increasing number of water sports enthusiasts also have suitable protection.

AMENDMENTS

The Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism calls on the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following amendments in its report:

Text proposed by the Commission(1)   Amendments by Parliament
Amendment 1
Article 2

This Directive shall cover all bathing water, with the exception of:

This Directive shall cover all bathing water that is not separated from natural waters like groundwater, surface waters or coastal water.

(1)   waters used for therapeutic purposes;

 

(2)   waters used in swimming pools and spa pools;

 

(3)   confined waters subject to treatment;

 

(4)   waters in confined surface waters, artificially created and separated from natural waters like groundwater, surface waters, or coastal water.

 

Justification

It is quite enough to draw the line between water connected with natural waters and water isolated from them.

Amendment 2
Article 3, paragraph 1, point (b a) (new)
 

(ba)   bathing and water sports are not prohibited and may be practised at the same time.

Justification

It is necessary to refer here to water sports, as such sports are also practised in bathing waters and often in bathing waters where it is possible to swim at the same time.

Amendment 3
Article 3, paragraph 4

(4)   "Other recreational activities": those activities, where devices are used to move across the water, involving a meaningful risk of swallowing water, such as surfing, windsurfing and kayaking.

(4)   "Water sports": those activities, where devices are used to move across the water, involving a meaningful risk of swallowing water.

Justification

Water sports’ is a better term for describing ‘other recreational activities’. It is not desirable to give a list, as not all water sports are included and no account is taken of possible new types of water sport.

Amendment 4
Article 16, paragraph 1, point (b)

(b)   an assessment as to whether the monitoring data are relevant for other recreational activities;

(b)   an assessment as to whether the monitoring data are relevant for water sports practised;

Justification

Follows from first amendment.

Amendment 5
Article 16, paragraph 2, point (a)

(a)   the bathing water's profile and the bathing water's classification, including information in relation to other recreational activities,

(a)   the bathing water's profile and the bathing water's classification, including information in relation to water sports practised,

Justification

Follows from first amendment.

Amendment 6
Article 17, paragraph 1

1.   For each bathing water, Member States shall provide the Commission annually, by 31 December at the latest and for the first time within three years following the date laid down in Article 22 (1), with the results of the monitoring data, together with an indication as to whether those data are relevant for other recreational activities in waters adjacent to the sampling points. Member States shall provide the Commission the bathing water assessment annually by 31 December at the latest, for the first time three years following the date laid down in Article 22 (1).

1.   For each bathing water, Member States shall provide the Commission annually, by 31 December at the latest and for the first time within three years following the date laid down in Article 22 (1), with the results of the monitoring data, together with an indication as to whether those data are relevant for bathing and water sports in waters adjacent to the sampling points. Member States shall provide the Commission with the bathing water assessment annually by 31 December at the latest, for the first time three years following the date laid down in Article 22 (1).

Justification

The amendment follows from the inclusion of water sports in this directive.

Amendment 7
Annex III, point (e)

e)   an assessment whether this monitoring provides as well representative information for other recreational activities practised with a similar risk of swallowing water as bathing (e.g. windsurfing, kayaking).

e)   an assessment whether this monitoring provides as well representative information for water sports practised with a similar risk of swallowing water as bathing (e.g. windsurfing, kayaking, water‑skiing, jet‑skiing, diving, canoeing, sailing and possible new types of water sport).

Justification

Follows from first amendment. It is appropriate to list different types of water sport in the annex.

(1)OJ C 45 E, 25.2.2003, p. 127.

Last updated: 17 October 2003Legal notice