Most European Beaches Clean, EU Report Shows
BRUSSELS -- Europe's holiday beaches won generally high ratings on Thursday from the European Commission, which reported nearly nine out of 10 in good condition on the coasts, but only six out of 10 inland.
Among the top beach holiday countries, Greece rated highly with nearly all of its 2,047 coastal sites meeting mandatory standards and 97 percent meeting higher standards.
Spain's 2,034 coastal beaches rated nearly as high for minimum standards, with 93 percent meeting higher standards.
Italy's 5,705 bathing areas rated 93 percent at the minimum standard and 91 percent at the higher standard.
France's 1,893 coastal bathing areas were at 97 percent, but only 70 percent met the more stringent guidelines.
France also has 1,319 inland beaches on freshwater sources such as lakes and reservoirs. Nine of 10 met mandatory standards, but only three out of five met higher standards.
The worst performer was Luxembourg, which has no coastal beaches and only 20 freshwater or inland beaches. Of those only 35 percent met mandatory standards, and the Commission said the situation was not getting better there.
But the ratings do not tell the whole story in every case.
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said he had "great concern" that some member states had de-listed beaches.
"Member states must stop removing bathing sites from the official lists without formally stating the reasons," he said in a statement. "I regret that the initial warning by the European Commission has had no effect to stop this trend."
Holiday goers also have the alternative of getting a beach-by-beach report on swimming beach cleanliness.
Colour-coded maps for the thousands of beaches EU beaches, both at the sea and inland, can be found on the Web at http://ec.europa.eu/water/water-bathing/report_2007.html.