Mixed blessings as European Parliament accepts compromise on bathing waters

May 11, 2005
WaterVoice describes as a 'mixed bag' decisions of European Parliament on tighter bathing water standards, following a vote in Strasbourg yesterday afternoon. MEPs approve inclusion of an extra classification, 'sufficient', in addition to the proposals for poor, good and excellent classifications...

LONDON, May 11, 2005 (GNN) -- WaterVoice has described as a 'mixed bag' the decisions of the European Parliament on tighter bathing water standards, following a vote in Strasbourg yesterday afternoon, according to a news release issued by the Government News Network.

Members of the Parliament (MEPs) approved the inclusion of an extra classification, 'sufficient', in addition to the proposals for poor, good and excellent classifications.

WaterVoice had feared that deleting the 'sufficient' classification would have led to a twelvefold increase in the number of bathing waters classified as 'poor'. This could still happen, as MEPs voted to apply the 'sufficient' classification for a transitional period of eight years - which could see it disappear as early as 2013.

MEPs also imposed stricter standards for this classification than the Council of Ministers had proposed.

Sheila Reiter, chairman of WaterVoice's European Group, said: "The approval of a 'sufficient' category represents a sensible compromise solution on the future of bathing water standards. However, we remain concerned that the first classification under the new bathing water regime - now due in 2011 following the latest vote - may still not allow the water industry enough time to carry out improvements which are effective and which offer value for money for customers.

"Overall, the European Parliament's decisions are a mixed bag, and WaterVoice will continue to scrutinise the revised directive's progress to ensure that customers are protected."

As the European Parliament and the Environmental Council share legislative powers, the directive will now be considered by a conciliation committee consisting of equal numbers of Parliamentary and Council representatives. If agreement cannot be reached, the new directive will not be adopted, and the existing directive which dates from 1976 will continue to apply.

In other news, a Consumer Council for Water (CCW), which will take over WaterVoice's functions in October 2005, is currently recruiting members for its regional committees in England and Wales.

Applications are invited from members of the public who want an active role in promoting water and sewerage customers' interests. Members must be able to devote at least 2-3 days a month to Committee duties and will be paid GBP 4,000 a year.

For an information pack on the appointments -- available on the website of the CCW's recruitment consultants, kmc International, click here.

The closing date for applications is June 3.

In related news, see: "UK watchdog urges EU Parliament to reject 'bathing water' measure"

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