In 2017, the European Commission launched a study to identify how EMAS could bring further benefits to public authorities and organisations. It aimed to follow up on the evaluation of the EMAS regulation (Fitness Check), which pointed out several areas for improvement. The Fitness Check notably identified that some Member States reward EMAS-registered organisations with regulatory relief measures, reducing the financial and administrative burden on them, but that the potential of such measures to bring benefits to authorities and organisations remains untapped in most Member States.
The RAVE study therefore looked at:
The final results are available now:
EMAS is a tool to help organisations assess and improve their environmental performance; it thereby enables public authorities to reduce environmental risks. The RAVE study investigated why some Member States value EMAS more than others, and identified two characteristics that make it a better instrument than other environmental tools for authorities: its greater focus on legal compliance and its transparency.
Click here to access a summary of the study for policymakers.
Because of these features, some Member States have implemented regulatory relief measures and other incentives to encourage more organisations to join EMAS. The study inventoried 219 measures and selected 38 best practices that can be replicated in other Member States. These best practices can promote EMAS with limited efforts from authorities. They also show how EMAS can help authorities achieve environmental targets while sometimes reducing their workload at the same time.
As a policymaker, we encourage you to:
Among other objectives, the RAVE study analysed the added value of EMAS for authorities. Enforcement and local authorities can benefit from EMAS’s focus on continuous improvement of environmental performance, third-party-verified legal compliance, and transparency through mandatory and validated environmental reporting. EMAS can help reduce environmental risks and save time and resources for enforcement and inspection authorities. For example, 70% of verifiers and EMAS-registered organisations surveyed in the study agree that EMAS is more effective than ISO 14001 in ensuring legal compliance.
The study also specifically examined the authorities’ trust in EMAS. The conclusions indicated that many authorities were not familiar with EMAS in its current form and thus were unsure how EMAS could justify regulatory relief (including reductions in inspections and reporting obligations). As a result, authorities are unsure of the benefits of implementing regulatory relief. However, EMAS-registered organisations emerged as willing to go the extra step to convince authorities of EMAS’s effect on their performance. More than 70% of the EMAS-registered organisations surveyed indicated a willingness to comply with optional measures, such as having their audit reports sent to inspection authorities, if in return they could receive more incentives from public authorities.
Click here to access a summary of the study for local and enforcement authorities.
As a local or enforcement authority, we would encourage you to:
While the main objective of the study was to identify options for public authorities to support EMAS as a public scheme, the report is also a rich source of information on the implementation of EMAS in Member States, the benefits experienced by organisations registered with EMAS, and these organisations’ needs. For example, the study shows that EMAS is effective in increasing the legal compliance and transparency of organisations: 69% of EMAS-registered organisations surveyed feel that EMAS helps them achieve legal compliance more easily and completely than ISO 14001 alone (80% of these organisations have both EMAS and ISO 14001).
Click here to access a summary of the study for EMAS organisations.
The study analysed the advantages that Member States offer EMAS-registered organisations in recognition of their commitment to sustainable development, and compared them with the needs expressed by organisations. This comparison aims to help Member States introduce effective advantages in the future. The study also looked at opportunities for EMAS-registered organisations to use the environmental statement to facilitate reporting to authorities and to create business opportunities.
As an EMAS-registered organisation, we would therefore encourage you to: