Like thousands of companies and organisations in the EU that want to improve their environmental track record to match EU rules, the European Parliament joined the EU Environmental Management and Audit System (EMAS) on 24 January. On Tuesday, the President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, and the EP Secretary General Julian Priestly, signed a European Parliament 'environment statement' officialising the EP's pledge to meet EU EMAS standards and become more environment-friendly. The document was signed in the offices of the European Parliament's Environment Committee in the presence of Karl-Heinz Florenz (EPP-ED, Germany), who chairs the committee. In the formal statement, Borrell says (unofficial translation) that the European Parliament is proud of its pledge to meet sustainable environment targets and implement the good environmental policy it is contributing to through the EU's legislative process. Eco-management and the EMAS audit scheme provide the EP with an opportunity to make manifest its attachments to these targets in a practical way. The enivornemtn statement expresses the European Parliament's desire to demonstrate that its activity is in perfect line with current environmentally-friendly best practice and damages the environment as little as possible (end of quote). While signing the document, Borrell hoped the European Parliament would be given EMAS certification before the end of the year. During 2006, the text of the statement and all the European Parliament's new environmental management system will be submitted to an external audit to see whether it can be officially registered under the EMAS regulation. Karl-Heinz Florenz said he was delighted with the initiative because it makes one of his oldest personal desires tangible. He said the EP was working on drawing up EU legislation to ensure better environment policy and the legislation would now be applied in the EP itself. He added that EMAS was a continual process which the EP would not be able to withdraw from, and as a legislator it was required to set an example. The European Parliament currently has more than 5000 officials working in three cities, Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg. It has more than 900,000 square metres of offices and gets through more than 800 tonnes of paper every year. It annual electricity bill is around EUR 6 million. The European Parliament has already started getting its own house in order. For several years now it has been applying paper and energy saving measures, recycling waste and cutting transport by using video conferencing. The signing of the environment statement is the formal launch of a genuine, permanent, internal structural policy. The EU's Environmental Management and Audit System was established by Regulation 1836/93/EEC and initially only covered industry. The regulation was updated in 2001 to include all areas of the economy, including public and private services (Regulation 761/2001/EC). Companies can voluntarily join the EMAS and pledge to respect EU environment legislation. Companies and organisations which respect EU environment legislation can be awarded EMAS certification, official recognition of environment-friendly management.


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