New EMAS regulation nears implementation

Officials prepare for spring relaunch of EU environmental management standard

The EU's new-look EMAS environmental management standard has moved closer to introduction following a meeting of national officials last week. The revised regulation is expected to enter into force in April. Transition arrangements are nearing completion, according to officials.

EMAS was introduced in 1995 but has been outstripped by the similar but less stringent ISO 14001 international environmental management standard, even in most EU countries. Agreed late last year, the revised rules are intended to make the scheme more attractive, for example by extending eligibility beyond industrial companies and encouraging regulatory benefits for registered firms (ENDS Daily 24 November 2000).

Last week, the EMAS administrative committee held final discussions on six guidance documents being prepared to support the new rules. Each now requires only formal ratification. They deal with: the annual environmental statement that EMAS-registered firms must prepare, the frequency of verification and validation of environmental statements, identification of environmental aspects and assessment of significance, employee involvement, use of the new EMAS logo, and defining what sort of entities can be registered to EMAS.

Officials also debated what regulatory benefits countries could offer to EMAS-registered firms. The European Commission is to collect and publish examples. Four possibilities discussed at the meeting were: less supervision by regulatory authorities, exemption from reporting obligations beyond the EMAS environmental statement, reduction in fees in certain areas, and the role of EMAS in public procurement.

Other preparatory work is also continuing, including inclusion of so-called "article 14" non-industrial EMAS registrations in the statistics.

Meanwhile, the pace of growth of industrial EMAS registrations picked up somewhat in the two months to the end of December, reaching 3076. This marks an 11.5% annual increase from December 1999, and 2% since ENDS Daily's last survey to the end of October (ENDS Daily 6 November).

Most notable in the latest figures is strong growth in Spain, which has leapfrogged the UK to boast the fifth largest number of EMAS-registered industrial sites. The big four of Germany, Austria, Sweden and Denmark also showed continued growth, maintaining their 88% share of all industrial EMAS registrations.

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Numbers of EMAS-registered sites
             1/11/00     1/01/01
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Germany       2106         2124
Austria        244          252
Sweden         162          177
Denmark        144          151
Spain           73           85
UK              75           77
Norway          62           65
France          35           35
Italy           34           34
Finland         32           31
Netherlands     26           26
Belgium          9            9
Ireland          7            7
Luxembourg       1            1
Greece           1            1
Portugal         1            1
TOTAL         3012         3076
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Source: EMAS Helpdesk
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Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111, and official EMAS web pages.

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