The commission's latest annual "bathing water report" says as of 2009, 96 percent of coastal beaches met EU minimum standards, EUobserver reported Friday.
"Over the last 30 years, EU and national legislation has significantly improved the quality of Europe's bathing waters but our work does not end here," Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said of the report.
Although seaside beaches in Cyprus, France, Greece and Portugal complied with the EU's tougher "guide values," 2 percent of coastal beaches were banned in 2009, and most of those were in Italy, EUobserver said.
Potocnik suggested he would decline to go swimming there.
"Italy has work to do," he said. "I don't know about the discrepancies, but I'm swimming on the other side."
Freshwater bathing sites were included in the report, which said Finland, France, Germany and Sweden had the best lakeside or riverside places to swim, EUobserver reported.