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Water and marine environment

Securing the sustainable use of water remains a key challenge

Clean water is an essential resource for human health, agriculture, energy production, transport and nature. But it is also under multiple pressures. Currently, only 40% of Europe’s surface water bodies achieve good ecological status. In addition, even though EU countries have managed to reduce selected pressures, the status of our marine ecosystems remains critical, both in terms of species and habitats. More efforts are needed to achieve Europe's freshwater and marine-related environmental targets.

State of bathing waters in 2019

This map shows bathing water locations and their quality for the latest as well as previous bathing seasons. All symbols are coloured according to achieved quality status in the most recent season. Data are presented on two levels: country (less detailed scales) and bathing water (more detailed scales).

Data sources:

The share of bathing sites with excellent water quality in Europe has increased from 53 % in 1991 to 85 % in 2019, thanks to local actions guided by binding European legislation. A new European Environment Agency (EEA) report shows how improving bathing water quality can serve as a model for successful environmental legislation and management.

Reducing pressures from agriculture is key to improving the status of Europe’s rivers, lakes, transitional, coastal waters and seas as well as groundwater bodies. A European Environment Agency (EEA) assessment, published today, shows that wider uptake of sustainable agricultural management practices is needed for improving the state of water, as well as biodiversity.

River continuity is key to improving the ecological status of Europe’s water bodies. However, very few free-flowing rivers remain and the barriers in them cause significant pressures for about 20 % of Europe’s surface water bodies. A European Environment Agency (EEA) briefing, published today, looks at the issue of river barriers and their impact on ecosystems.

Published: 29 Mar 2021

Monitoring and reporting results for Horizon 2020 regional initiative

Published: 26 Feb 2021

This report summarises how over 40 years of European environmental policy and management have significantly improved bathing water quality across Europe.

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