The EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a management tool for companies and other organisations to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance. The scheme has been available for participation by companies since 1995 (Council Regulation (EEC) No 1836/93 of 29 June 1993) but was originally restricted to companies in manufacturing sectors.
Since 2001, EMAS has been open to all economic sectors, including public and private services (Regulation (EC) No 761/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 March 2001). In addition, EMAS was strengthened by the integration of EN/ISO 14001 as the environmental management system required by EMAS, by adopting an attractive EMAS logo to signal EMAS registration to the outside world and by considering more strongly the indirect environmental impacts, such as those related to financial services or administrative and planning decisions.
Participation is voluntary and extends to public or private organisations operating in the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA) — Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. An increasing number of candidate countries are also implementing the scheme in preparation for their accession to the EU.
In 2010, the European Commission will launch a new version of EMAS III. It will improve further the requirements of the EMAS standard, emphasising the need for attention to climate change issues and more sustainable procurement and product application, and is allowing the global spreading of the system. EMAS III is also trying to make the system more attractive for companies as well as supporting the EU in trying to raise the number of EMAS registrations.