The European Commission has published its latest annual report on the quality of bathing water in Europe. The 1996 report shows that almost 90% of seaside beaches meet the minimum quality requirements, around one third of freshwater bathing areas are either insufficiently monitored or do not meet the minimum quality requirements. Mrs. Ritt Bjerregaard, Commissioner responsible for the environment, called on Member States to continue making efforts to improve the quality of bathing water. Mrs. Bjerregaard called, in particular, on Germany, France, The Netherlands, Spain and Portugal to put efforts into improving fresh water quality over the next bathing season. She reasoned that these countries had already shown that they could improve the quality of their seaside beaches. The Commission will continue to put pressure on the Member States to ensure that the Directive on bathing water quality is fully applied, including through the European Court of Justice, she said. The annual report covers around 13,000 seaside beaches and 6,000 freshwater bathing sites. For the first time in 1997, the report will be made available on the Commission's Europa World Wide Web server, where users can see the changes in water quality at individual sites since measurements were first taken.