Commission of the European Community v United Kingdom: ECJ 24 Aug 1993

The wording in the directive regarding the ‘traditional practice of bathing by large numbers’ is precise, and the UK must implement it.
Europa 1. Acts of the institutions – Directives – Implementation by the Member States – Information given to the Commission concerning planned measures – Obligation of the Commission to react within a specific period – None – Possibility of subsequently bringing proceedings against a Member State for failure to fulfil obligations (EEC Treaty, Arts 5, 169 and 189, third para.) 2. Approximation of laws – Quality of bathing water – Directive 76/160 – Bathing waters – Definition – Areas specially equipped for bathing and supervised by lifeguards – included irrespective of the actual number of bathers (Council Directive 76/160, Art. 1(2)(a), second indent) 3. Approximation of laws – Quality of bathing water – Directive 76/160 – Implementation by the Member States – Obligation as to the result to be achieved (Council Directive 76/160)
1. A Member State which is bound to implement a directive is not entitled to draw the inference from the Commission’s initial failure to react to a communication addressed to it regarding the manner in which the Member State intended to implement the directive that the Commission, which was obliged by neither Article 5 of the Treaty nor the provisions of the directive to express a view within a given period, had approved the criteria notified. It is for the Commission to decide when it intends to formulate objections and there is nothing to prevent it subsequently bringing proceedings against the Member State for failure to fulfil obligations. 2. The definition of ‘bathing water’ within the meaning of the second indent of Article 1(2)(a) of Directive 76/160 concerning the quality of bathing water must, in the light of the directive’ s underlying purpose as expressed in the recitals in the preamble thereto, be understood as encompassing at all events the waters of bathing resorts equipped with certain facilities, such as changing huts, toilets and markers indicating bathing areas, and supervised by lifeguards. 3. Directive 76/160 concerning the quality of bathing water, Article 4(1) of which imposes an obligation on Member States to take all the measures necessary to ensure that their bathing waters conform to the physical, chemical and microbiological values laid down by the directive within a period of ten years from its notification, requires Member States to take steps to ensure that the prescribed results are attained within the period laid down; apart from the derogations expressly provided for by the directive they may not rely on particular circumstances to justify a failure to fulfil that obligation.


Independent 24-Aug-1993, C-56/90

Environment, European

Updated: 10 May 2022; Ref: scu.79309