On July 24, 2023, the European Commission has issued a decision (EU 2023/1533) partly recognizing key aspects of the Austrian ECOPROFIT (ÖKOPROFIT) environmental management system for its compliance with EMAS requirements. The decision has come into force following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
The EMAS Regulation offers the possibility, in article 45, that the Commission shall recognise other national or regional environmental management schemes, or parts thereof, which comply with corresponding requirements of the Regulation, provided specific conditions are fulfilled. Since the establishment of EMAS only one other environmental management system, the Norway Eco lighthouse, has been partly recognized in 2017 (EU 2017/2286).
ECOPROFIT (ÖKOPROFIT) is an environmental program developed in 1991 in Graz, offering a partnership between regional businesses, administration, and experts to provide companies with an environmentally conscious management approach. The decision follows Austria's written request submitted on May 9, 2022, seeking recognition of ECOPROFIT (ÖKOPROFIT) with some EMAS requirements.
In terms of methodology, the Commission has analysed the 12 key requirements of EMAS and for each of them delivers an opinion on whether they are fully compliant or not compliant. The parts recognised as complying with corresponding EMAS requirements shall be considered equivalent. For the parts only partially or not equivalent the analysis identified possible measures to close the gaps.
Find here the full underlying analysis carried out as a basis for the Decision.
Therefore, the Commission found that some parts of ECOPROFIT (ÖKOPROFIT) match the European standards for responsible environmental practices defined in the EMAS Regulation. Notably, the commitment of top management and the establishment of an environmental policy were recognized as equivalent.
However, there are also some areas where ECOPROFIT (ÖKOPROFIT) doesn't fully align with the EMAS requirements. The management review and some aspects of the environmental review still need some improvements to be fully compliant.
Despite these differences, the Commission's recognition is an incentive for ECOPROFIT (ÖKOPROFIT) certified companies to step up to EMAS as the aspects which are recognised as equivalent can be automatically considered as fulfilled during the verification process for EMAS registration. As major part of ECOPROFIT (ÖKOPROFIT) registered companies are SMEs, the recognition can considerably ease the administrative burdens and costs to step-up to EMAS.
For more information about how to benefit from the equivalence contact the Austrian Competent Body.
- Publication date
- 8 August 2023
- Directorate-General for Environment