Indicator Assessment

Number of organisations with registered environmental management systems according to EMAS and ISO 14001

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-337-en
  Also known as: SCP 033
Published 05 Apr 2013 Last modified 11 May 2021
11 min read
This page was archived on 09 Feb 2021 with reason: Other (Discontinued indicator)

The number of organisations registered under the EMAS standard rose by 50% during the period 2003-2010, while organisations from EU countries certified according to the international ISO 14001 standard more than quadrupled in the period 2001-2009. This indicates that private companies and public institutions in the EU are increasingly engaging in environmental management.

This indicator is discontinued. No more assessments will be produced.

Number of organisations with registered environmental management system according to EMAS within EU member countries

Note: Time series of organisations and sites in EU27 which are registered to EMAS

Data source:

Number of organisations with registered environmental management system according to ISO 14001 within EU member countries

Note: Time series of companies in EU27 which are certified by ISO 14001

Data source:

The number of organisations registered under the EMAS standard rose by 50% in the period 2003-2010. During the same period the number of individual sites registered to EMAS has grown by almost 100%. However, it should be noted that there are major differences between countries in terms of engagement in EMAS. Of the approximately 4500 registered organisations approximately 3700 are spread between just three countries (Germany, Spain and Italy). In some countries such as Denmark, registrations have actually decreased since 2001. These large differences between countries may be a result of differences in national administrative rules for EMAS registration.

Meanwhile, the number of organisations within the EU that are certified according to the international ISO 14001 standard for environmental management systems have increased by more than a factor 4 in the period 2001-2009. The vast majority of organisations certified are from EU-15 countries, but the EU-12 countries have seen the most dramatic increases in number of certified organisations from approximately 1100 organisations in 2001 to roughly 17400 organisations in 2009. This has resulted in the share of EU-12 certified organisations in total EU registrations, increasing from 6.5% in 2001 to 21.5% in 2009.

The number of organisations having achieved certification under ISO 14001 is more than 10 times the number of organisations registered under EMAS. There are several reasons for this difference,  it is more demanding to achieve an EMAS registration than an ISO 14001 certification and ISO 14001 may be more widely recognised than EMAS in non-European markets.

The significant increase in numbers of organisations with certified or registered environmental management systems indicates that private companies and public institutions in the EU are increasingly engaged in environmental management though engagement is heavily weighted on a handful of EU countries.

In addition, due to the administrative burden of EMAS and ISO14001 registrations and documentation it may be more an indication that large enterprises are engaging more in environmental management. Many SMEs in particular may be engaging in environmental management systems in order to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and/or to reduce costs of resource inputs and waste management, but may not be registering under EMAS or ISO14001. Developments in these smaller companies may therefore not be being picked up by this indicator. An added complication is that some EU countries also have their own domestic EMS certification systems which are also not captured by the indicator (Eurostat, 2010).

Supporting information

Indicator definition

The indicator presents the total number of organisations and number of sites registered under the EU environmental management system (EMS) certification scheme, EMAS (Figure 1), and the number of organisations certified according to the international standard for EMS, ISO14001 (Figure 2), year by year.


This indicator is expressed in absolute numbers of certified organisations (in both figures) and sites (EMAS only).


Policy context and targets

Context description

The international policy framework for SCP was recently agreed at Rio+20 with the adoption of the ten year framework for action on sustainable consumption and production. The declaration ‘The future we want’ recognised the need to change unsustainable and promote sustainable patterns of consumption and production. More specifically the declaration ‘call[s] on the private sector to engage in responsible business practices, such as those promoted by the UN Global Compact [and] acknowledge[s]  the importance of corporate sustainability reporting and encourage companies, where appropriate, especially publicly listed and large companies, to consider integrating sustainability information into their reporting cycle.’

The EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) Regulation establishes a management tool for companies and other organisations to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance and have their engagement and performance externally verified. The scheme has been available for participation by companies since 1995 and was originally restricted to the industrial sectors. Since 2001 EMAS has been open to all economic sectors including public and private services. In 2009 the EMAS Regulation was revised and modified for the second time (REG. 1221/2009/EC). The revision has improved the scheme’s applicability and credibility and strengthened its visibility and outreach.

As a part of the Lisbon Agenda, the Commission issued a 2001 Green Paper (COM(2001)366 final) and a 2002 Communication (COM(2002)347  final) on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The objective of the Green paper was to launch a wide debate on how the European Union could promote CSR on a European and international level, in particular, on how to make the most of existing experiences, to encourage the development of innovative practices, to bring greater transparency and to increase reliability in evaluating and validating the various initiatives undertaken in Europe. The Commission defined CSR as "a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis". A Community strategy was shaped in order to promote CSR, which included the following actions: spreading information on the benefits of CSR for business and States; increasing the exchange of good practice between businesses and between Member States; developing CSR management skills; encouraging SMEs to adopt CSR strategies; and step up transparency for CSR practices and tools.

In October 2002, the Commission launched the EU Multi-Stakeholder Forum on CSR. The CSR Forum brought together representatives of business, trade unions and civil society, with the Commission in a facilitating role. The Forum confirmed the Commission definition of CSR while further exploring its scope and boundaries. The Forum also reached consensus on the need for further awareness-raising and competency-building activities. There was no consensus, however, on topics such as company reporting requirements or the need for European standards on CSR.

second communication on CSR was published on 22 March 2006 (COM(2006)136 final). As part of the mid-term review of the Lisbon Strategy and the Sustainable Development Strategy, it traces the development of CSR in EU and sends a message to businesses to play a part in the partnership for growth and jobs. It gives its political support to the creation of a European Alliance on CSR. It also sets priorities with regard to CSR and announces a series of measures to achieve them, including cooperation with Member States, support for multi-stakeholder initiatives, research, SMEs and global action.

The European Parliament voted on a resolution (European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2007 on corporate social responsibility: a new partnership (2006/2133(INI)) in which it urges the EU executive to extend legal obligations to some key aspects of corporate accountability. In particular, the Commission was required to focus on some aspects such as awareness-raising and best practice exchange, consumer information and transparency, education, etc.

Launched in 2000, the UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. The three environment-related principles (7-9) states that business should: support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges; undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility and encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies. With over 8.700 corporate participants and other stakeholders from over 130 countries, it is the largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative in the world.

In the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe COM (2011) 571, part of the milestone under boosting efficient production is that by 2020 “All companies, and their investors, can measure and benchmark their lifecycle resource efficiency”.


No quantitative targets have been identified but the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe COM (2011) 571 has a relevant milestone.

Related policy documents

  • 2006/2133(INI)
    REPORT on corporate social responsibility: a new partnership (2006/2133(INI)) Committee on Employment and Social Affair
  • COM(2001) 366 final Green Paper Promoting a European framework for Corporate Social Responsibility
     COM(2001) 366 final  Green Paper Promoting a European framework for Corporate Social Responsibility
  • COM(2002)347 final
    Communication on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). 
  • COM(2006) 136 final
  • Regulation No 1221/200: EMAS Regulation
    REGULATION (EC) No 1221/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCILof 25 November 2009on the voluntary participation by organisations in a Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS), repealing Regulation (EC) No  761/2001 and Commission Decisions 2001/681/EC and 2006/193/E
  • Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe COM(2011) 571
    Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe.  COM(2011) 571  
  • The Future We Want –Declaration of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio (2012)
    The Future We Want is the declaration on sustainable development and a green economy adopted at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio on June 19, 2012. The Declaration includes broad sustainability objectives within themes of Poverty Eradication, Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture, Energy, Sustainable Transport, Sustainable Cities, Health and Population and Promoting Full and Productive Employment. It calls for the negotiation and adoption of internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals by end 2014. It also calls for a UN resolution strengthening and consolidating UNEP both financially and institutionally so that it can better disseminate environmental information and provide capacity building for countries.


Methodology for indicator calculation

Figure 1: Data were extracted from the Eurostat database without any modification.

Figure 2: In order to calculate the number of organisations that have been certified with ISO14001 in the EU-15 countries, the raw values for each EU-15 country for each year are added up. The number of organisations for the 13 newest EU countries is calculated in a similar manner.

Methodology for gap filling

No gap filling was necessary for producing this indicator.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.



Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified.

Data sets uncertainty

The Eurostat Quality Profile for the data on EMAS registrations can be viewed here:

According to the quality profile the accuracy of the indicator is restricted because it only describes part of the picture: not all organisations and sites are registered and Member States often have developed their own EMAS-like system. However, this is in part a relevance issue of the indicator rather than an issue of the accuracy of the EMAS certification data (see under rationale uncertainty).

Rationale uncertainty

Firstly, the indicator only provides information on environmental management and not corporate social responsibility which is also the subject of the policy question.

Secondly, the indicator does not reflect the complexity of environmental management systems amongst organisations in Europe. Many companies, in particular SMEs, may be engaging in EMS but due to the administrative demands of third party verification systems, are not applying for EMAS or ISO14001 certification. The indicator may therefore provide a measure of the extent to which large businesses are engaging in environmental management. 

Using absolute numbers rather than the share of companies (or share in total output by those companies) voluntarily adopting environmental management standards for their operations reduces the relevance of the indicator. The indicator shows relative growth in number of companies engaging but not their significance in the overall economy.

Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: Response
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • SCP 033
Frequency of updates
This indicator is discontinued. No more assessments will be produced.
EEA Contact Info


Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage



Filed under:
Filed under: emas
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