'Smileys' may soon indicate the quality of EU bathing waters

A legislative resolution has narrowly passed in a European Parliament committee that would set new standards for the quality of bathing water in the community.

Oct 24th, 2003


Oct. 24, 2003 -- A legislative resolution has narrowly passed in a European Parliament committee that would set new standards for the quality of bathing water in the community. The previous directive was enacted in 1976.

The new resolution would give more responsibility to regional and local authorities to provide better information to the general public about public beaches.

During meetings which were completed the 1st of October, Parliament approved the introduction of a system of 'smileys' to show whether the quality of the bathing water is excellent, good or bad.

The European Commission was asked to develop this system within two years for use throughout the European Union.

Members of Parliament felt that it was in the interest of swimmers, but also windsurfers, to know whether their beach waters were rated good or excellent. Once introduced, it is hoped that all EU citizens will come to understand and appreciate this smiley system.

Under the current directive, bathers received only information regarding the water quality of last year. In the new system, the information will relate to present conditions. The smileys will not replace the current blue flag system, which is a voluntary system in place only at some beaches. The smileys would be introduced Union-wide.

The vote was a first reading report. It is not likely that Parliament, under the current legislature, will be able to complete the second reading before the European elections of 2004. Introduction is consequently foreseen in 2005 at the earliest.

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