“Consumers in Europe will now be able to choose from a much wider range of certified environmentally-friendly products and more companies will emphasise environmental protection in their management,” noted the Minister of the Environment, Martin Bursík, on the results of the vote.
The amendment to the Regulation concerning the EU scheme of eco-labeling using “The “Flower” symbol provides primarily for establishing the criteria for products and services faster and for simplified processes in applying for the EU eco-label.
The amendment to the EMAS Regulation will particularly allow quicker registration in EMAS and it will open the scheme to organisations from countries outside the EU.
“Today’s voting marked the successful completion of yet another priority of the Czech Presidency in the area of the environment, namely sustainable consumption and production”, said the First Deputy Minister of the Environment, Jan Dusík. “This was our second success over the recent days. Last week the European Parliament approved a revision of the Regulation on substances depleting the Earth’s ozone layer, which we had managed to negotiate,” added Mr. Dusík and noted that all three cases involved regulations having a direct positive effect on each individual citizen of the EU Member States.
The eco-label, which takes the form of a flower, allows consumers to choose from products and services which are friendlier to the environment during their life cycles than other products, while maintaining high quality.
This is a voluntary labelling scheme in which companies may include products that fulfil given criteria. Although the scheme has been operated in Europe since 1992 and almost 5,000 products and services have already been certified, where the overall sales of these products – e.g. paper-industry products, washing agents and hotel services – correspond to approx. one billion euros per year, its wider use is prevented by excessive bureaucracy in establishing the criteria and issuing the certificates. Consequently, companies have not been using the system sufficiently. The approved revision of the Regulation will allow for a fundamental increase in the number of products and services bearing “The Flower” eco-label on the European market.
The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is also a voluntary system enabling registration of organisations (business and non-business entities) that actively control and monitor the environmental impact of their activities and gradually minimise it. The programme was established in 1993 for industrial undertakings and, since 2001, it has been open to all sectors of the economy. The objective of the compromise negotiated by the Czech Presidency is to increase the attractiveness of the system by simplifying administrative processes, harmonising procedures and defining clear standards (indicators). Special attention is paid to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises and organisations. The scheme should thus increase its overall effectiveness and address more organisations. This should be achieved, inter alia, by opening the scheme’s framework also to organisations from countries outside the EU.
Today the EMAS scheme comprises approximately 6,000 companies and organisations in Europe (including the Czech Ministry of the Environment). The European Commission estimates that the revised Regulation will allow for increasing this number by a further 17,000 entities by 2015.