Participation in EMAS is open to organisations operating in all economic sectors and worldwide.
The EMAS Regulation applies to all 27 EU Member States, the three European Economic Area Member States (i.e. Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and European Union Accession Countries. Through the EMAS Global mechanism, the scheme is applicable worldwide.
Participation in EMAS has been open to the public sector since 2001. Public authorities play an important role in promoting environmental consciousness and sustainable development. A number of local authorities across the European Union have already taken up the plan.
For its part, the Commission has every intention to practice what it preaches. In order to improve its environmental performance and to set an example for all economic actors and public authorities, the European Commission has decided to participate in EMAS.
Special emphasis is placed on encouraging SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 250 employees) to participate in the scheme. SME-specific support by the Member States and on the EU level is achieved by facilitating access to information, to existing support funds and to public institutions, and by promoting technical assistance measures.
Even though service providers do not produce tangible goods, the provision of services can be connected with the consumption of large amounts of electricity, heating energy, water, office material such as paper etc. This clearly leaves much space for measures which reduce both the environmental impact and the operational costs of a service provider. The experience has shown that within the service sector, in particular the tourism industry has shown interest in EMAS. This is self-explanatory considering the fact that the service and product of a hotel or a travel agent is very often closely linked to nature and a clean environment.
In the past, environmental issues were regarded as hardly relevant to the sector of financial services. This perception has fundamentally changed. The management of environmental problems presents a challenge to all kinds of financial institutions: investment banks, credit banks, insurance companies, pension funds and mutual funds, rating agencies etc. Besides the environmental impact of housekeeping activities, these institutions need in particular to consider the indirect impacts of their activities.