The European blue flag: Blue flags in Spain

In 1987, motivated by the European Environment year, the European Commission agreed to carry out three campaigns under the direct sponsorship of Brussels and with its institutional and economic support. One of there was the Blue Flag Campaign in Europe for which and agreement was signed with the European Foundation for the Environment (EFE) which recognized the initiative and responsibility to the organization for putting the campaign into motion.

The Foundation had been created in 1982 as a NOn-government Organization of an international nature by a group of experts from the Environmental Education Committee of the European Council, The Environmental Education and Consumer Association (ADEAC) being the national branch in Spain.

The objectives of the Foundation are based on the execution of investigations and actions to promote awareness and environmental education, the trans-frontier dimensions of the environmental problem and the need for international cooperation in the search for solutions.

The creation of a logotype and a Flag to distinguish the water sports centers in France which had excellent environmental conditions and services came about in 1985 as a private initiative of the French branch. One year later, the management Committee of the Foundation took on the campaign at an international level and obtained public and private, national and international funds which gave it and institutional character in 1987 and the sponsorship of the European Commission.

When the European Environment Year ended, The European Commission considered that the Blue Flag Campaign had ben one of the most successful actions undertaken in this field and decided to extend and institutionalize its support in successive campaigns.

Participation in the Blue Flag Campaign is voluntary both for member states of the European Union and for autonomous communities, municipalities and for the foundation itself and its national branches. it is not encouraged by any legal consideration or material stimulus and has to be renewed each year. This means that there may be excellent beaches that do not have the distinction but also means that all beaches and water sports centers flying the Blue Flag fulfill optimum conditions which can be verified.

As well as being voluntary with regard to participation, it is also and independent, participatory and inter-disciplinary campaign. No party, ideology, country or organizations predominates in it; new categories are continuously being included and it is based on four fundamental pillars: the quality of the water for swimming; compliance with environmental and coastal legislation; cleanliness and service related to user safety.


The position of Spain as a tourist destination is internationally vouched for and recognized. Its leadership with regard to tourist holidays has been endorsed not only by the number of foreign visitors and the income obtained, but also by various signs of quality which, like the concession of the Blue Flags. also puts the Spanish tourist sector at the top of the list.

The success of the blue frags as a sign of quality for Spanish beaches and water sports centers clearly shows the high level of the installations presented to tourists in this country. It is sufficient to recall that one in every five flags that are hung on beaches and in water sports centers in 18 countries will be in Spain. The record for these has once mover been broken, 329 beaches and 82 water sport centers have been awarded a blue flag.

The quality of the water, signposting, hygiene and security conditions, together with life saving and first aid services have been appreciated when conceding blue flags to our beaches. this clearly shows the efforts being made both by the Administration (Central Government) and the tourist sector to provide improved product quality and to maintain Spanish leadership in tourism.

Statement made by Jose Manuel Fernandez Norniella Secretary of State for Commerce, Tourism and Small and Medium Size Companies.


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