Staff Reporter
THE beaches in the Balearics, one of the region's main attractions, are exposed to a high degree of erosion, according to a shock report from the European Commission.

Other parts of Spain at risk include Andalucia, Catalonia, Valencia and Cantabria.
The report claims that 20 percent of the European coastline is affected by erosion, chiefly as a result of the construction of amenities which prevent sediments from reaching the sea.

The report, entitled Eurosion, names the chief factor in the deterioration of the coasts as human activity, especially industry and tourism, although natural causes such as storms and flooding also play a leading role.

The report warns that erosion is endangering the safety of the 70 million people who live within 100 metres of the coast (16 percent of the European Union population) as well as the ecological balance of the 132'300 square kilometres of coast.

This includes more than 47'000 square kilometres of land considered of high ecological value such as the Jurmala dunes in the gulf of Riga, which are seriously eroded.

Every year, beaches are reduced by between 50 centimetres and two metres, although in some cases the reduction can be as much as 15 metres.
In Spain, the beaches with moderate erosion are found in Galicia, Asturias, the Basque Country and Murcia.
Many of Majorca's beaches have not fully recovered from the devastating storms of November 2001, and there was a long-running dispute over the best way of restoring them leaving it to nature or dredging sand from the sea bed.

The worst hit European Union country is Poland, where more than half the coasts suffer a high level of erosion, followed by Cyprus (37 percent) and Latvia (32.8 percent). The countries least affected are Sweden and Estonia, where less than two percent of the coast suffers erosion and Finland, whose coasts are virtually intact.

The European Commission has proposed a series of recommendations to prevent the further deterioration of the coasts and comply with directives on water and natural habitats.

They include a code of good practice and detailed coastal surveys.

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