Study underlines EMAS strength in Germany

Verification agency credits "state anchored" process, for EU scheme's popularity compared with ISO 14001

A review of experience in Germany with the EU's environmental management standard, EMAS, has underlined a strong preference among German businesses for the EU system over the ISO 14001 international environmental management standard.

Germany has a total of 2,290 EMAS registered sites, representing about three quarters of the total in Europe. This figure is significantly higher than the official statistics published by the European Commission (ENDS Daily November 17) because it includes over 500 service sector sites not yet included in the Commission statistics.

Germany is the only EU country where there are more EMAS registered sites than ISO 14001-certified companies, the German environment agency analysis shows: In Germany there are nearly one-and-a-half EMAS registrations for every ISO 14001 certification. Only Austria comes close, with a ratio of 0.95 to 1. At the other end of the scale, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have fewer than one-tenth as many EMAS sites as they do ISO 14001-certified firms.

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Ratio of EMAS-registered sites to ISO 14001
certified firms, 30 June 1999.
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Germany           1.49
Austria           0.95
Denmark           0.29
Portugal          0.25
Sweden            0.24
Greece            0.17
Luxembourg        0.17
Spain             0.15
France            0.12
Italy             0.12
Finland           0.10
Ireland           0.09
UK                0.07
Belgium           0.07
Netherlands       0.05
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Source: German environment agency estimates
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Claudia Grosholz, of Germany's environmental verifiers committee (Uga) told ENDS Daily that EMAS was preferred because of its higher level of credibility compared with ISO 14001, due to its being "anchored in the state". Ms Grosholz said that Uga prepared the guidelines for a federally appointed private organisation, responsible for examining the verifiers. EMAS implementation was therefore of a "higher quality" than ISO 14001 in Germany, which was entirely "in private hands". In addition, EMAS enjoyed a better image due to a higher level of public awareness, she said.

Revisions to the 1993 EU regulation underpinning the EMAS scheme are still being debated. According to a Commission official, some "tiny technical questions" regarding wording around the new EMAS logo must be clarified before the dossier is sent to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament for a second reading. He did not foresee any major arguments and said that the Finnish presidency was pushing hard for final agreement on the revision before the end of the year.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111; German environment agency, tel: +49 30 89030; Uga, tel: +49 228 81920. References: "EU Eco-Audit in Germany: Report on Experience 1995-1998".

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