The Balearic beaches and marinas will this year be flying a total of 66 Blue flags, nine more than last year. The Blue Flags are awarded by the European Environment Foundation and are a sign of cleanliness, safety and good environmental management. This year a total of 53 beaches have been awarded the Blue Flag, four more than last year and 13 marinas, five more than in 2001. This year the Blue Flags celebrate their 15th anniversary and a record number of flags have been awarded in 24 countries. However, while one in every blue flag awarded in Europe and South Africa, corresponds to a Spanish beach, the total 423 Spanish beaches only account for one out of seven Spanish beaches with just four per cent of the country's coastline meeting the Blue Flag criteria. Earlier this week Spain and the Balearics were given environmental warning by Brussels. Bathing water in Pollensa and Peguera has failed to meet necessary standards and on the whole, environmental care is poor and Spanish authorities have been urged to get their act together and in line with the rest of the European Union. In Palma the council has signed an agreement with the Red Cross which will not only ensure beach security and safety this summer, but will also include weekly checks on the bathing water quality and cleanliness of the sand. In Calvia similar checks are carried out throughout the summer. Failure to meet the Blue Flag criteria results in the prestigious award being withdrawn.

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