Environment: Commission asks Czech Republic to comply with Court ruling on bathing water quality

Source: European Commission (EC) i, published on Thursday, January 27 2011.

The European Commission is urging the Czech Republic to comply with a European Court of Justice ruling on its failure to adopt adequate legislation on bathing water quality. On a proposal by Environment Commissioner Potocnik, the Commission is therefore sending a letter of formal notice under ongoing infringement proceedings. If the Czech Republic fails to respond within two months, a second Court referral and financial penalties could follow.

In September 2010, the European Court of Justice ruled that the Czech Republic was failing to comply with European legislation on bathing water quality. Directive 2006/7/EC concerning the management of bathing water quality and repealing Directive 76/160/EEC - legislation which protects the environment and human health by setting limits for pollution in bathing water - was to be transposed by 24 March 2008, but more than two years after the deadline, Czech legislation was still not in line with European requirements.

The Czech authorities tried to have the necessary legislation adopted during the first Parliamentary reading this year, but the legislation has been delayed. The Commission therefore considers that the implementation of the Court ruling is still not complete, and a letter of formal notice is being sent under ongoing infringement proceedings. The Czech Republic has two months to comply. If the appropriate action is not taken, the Commission may decide to refer the case back to the Court and request financial penalties.

Background: the bathing water directive

The bathing water directive, which covers coastal and inland bathing waters, dates back to 1976, and was updated in 2006 to reflect advances in knowledge and quality standards. The revised version of the directive is based on improved scientific knowledge, provides better and earlier information to citizens about the quality of their bathing waters, moves from simple sampling and monitoring of bathing waters to bathing quality management, and is integrated with other EU measures protecting water quality such as the Water Framework Directive.