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EMAS - Performance, Credibility, Transparency

Eco-label Environmental Compliance Assistance Program Green Public Procurement

How does EMAS work?

A number of actors share responsibility for implementing and promoting EMAS in the European Union. The Commission develops and supervises the scheme at the EU level. It co-ordinates also pan-European promotion activities, and has set up an EMAS Helpdesk to support the Commission, in particular with requests from companies and the public. Member States are obliged to create the registration and verification scheme at the national level including competent and accreditation bodies.

Registration : The national Competent Bodies

Each Member State designates a national — independent and neutral - Competent Body to organise the registration process of sites within their own territory. It is their responsibility to issue registration numbers to organisations which have submitted a validated environmental statement, collect any payable registration fee, refuse, suspend and delete organisations from the register and respond to enquiries concerning organisations on the national EMAS register. Changes to this register have to be communicated to the Commission. Consistency of procedures relating to the registration process is ensured by a peer review process of all Competent Bodies which meet at least once a year to exchange information.

Verification : Verifiers and Accreditation/Licensing Bodies

EMAS verifiers are organisations or individuals with expert knowledge in the field of EMAS that have been accredited/issued licences by their Accreditation/Licensing Bodies and which are independent of the organisation being verified and of the organisation’s auditor or consultant. Their task is to ensure that organisations seeking registration are in compliance with the requirements of the EMAS Regulation. Verifiers are responsible for checking that an organisation fulfil environmental legal requirements., has carried out an initial environmental review if appropriate, has a fully operational environmental management system which is audited in a systematic, objective and periodic way and that it has prepared an environmental statement in accordance with the EMAS regulation. They also verify the reliability, credibility and correctness of the data and information in the environmental statement and other environmental information provided by organisations. EMAS verifiers accredited in one Member State may also perform verification activities in any other Member State

An Accreditation/Licensing Body is an independent, impartial institution or organisation responsible for the accreditation/issuing of licences to and supervision of environmental verifiers designated by the Member States. Member States may use existing accreditation/licensing institutions or the EMAS Competent Body, or designate any other appropriate body. The Accreditation/Licensing Body establishes, revises and updates a list of environmental verifiers and their scope of accreditation (according to NACE codes) in their Member State. Changes to this list have to be communicated to the Competent Body and the Commission.

Implementing and developing EMAS

The role of the European Commission is to ensure the proper implementation of EMAS and to assess and promote the scheme at the EU level, for example by preparing sectoral reference documents including environmental performance indicators for specific sectors or best environmental management practice. Information gathered from the Member States has to be used by the Commission in order to determine the need for specific measures aimed at increasing participation in EMAS, in particular SMEs. The Commission promotes collaboration between the Member States and, in partnership with interested parties, it has the task of developing develop guidelines aimed at ensuring consistent implementation of the EMAS requirements across the Member States. The Commission and other Community institutions should consider how EMAS may be taken into account when setting criteria for their procurement policies. The register of environmental verifiers and EMAS-registered organisations is maintained by the Commission and made publicly available. Five years after entry into force of the EMAS regulation, the Commission will conduct a review of the operation of the scheme and related international developments and will evaluate of the use, recognition and interpretation of the EMAS logo. Finally, the Commission is also responsible for providing technical support to Candidate Countries in the setting up of the necessary structures for the implementation of the scheme.

Member States are responsible for establishing EMAS within their country and have to provide the Commission with information on the implementation of the scheme. They designate and supervise the Competent Bodies and the Accreditation Bodies and develop guidelines for suspension and deletion of the registration of organisations. Each Member State has to consider how registration under EMAS can be taken into account in the implementation and enforcement of environmental legislation (deregulation), measures taken in this context have to be communicated to the Commission. The Member States promote the participation of companies and other organisations in EMAS on a national level, in particular, they are required to establish or promote special technical assistance measures to help small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in registering and complying with EMAS. In order to encourage participation in EMAS, Member States are also held to consider how EMAS could be taken into account in case of public procurement, measures taken in this context have to be communicated to the Commission.

The Article 49 Committee is the Steering Committee of EMAS. Chaired by the Commission, it represents the Member States, and interest groups such as industry, unions, environmental NGOs etc. The Committee meets several times a year to support the Commission in practical issues concerning the implementation of the EMAS regulation. Areas in which the Committee has to be involved are defined by the regulation; they include amongst others: finding ways to disseminate best practice for the promotion of the scheme, adopting rules for the use of the logo, revising and updating the annexes of the regulation.

The EMAS Helpdesk collects information from Member States about the registered organisations and accredited verifiers on behalf of the European Commission and provides promotional and information services to all interested parties via the EMAS website and a phone/fax/email-enquiry service.