The European Union's voluntary environmental management system EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) is an instrument which aims to help businesses and other organisations improve their environmental performance and at the same time cut operating costs. The EMAS Regulation issued by the European Commission lays down requirements as to how the system is to implemented, but allows the individual member-states considerable discretion particularly with regard to administrative structures.
Germany adopted a separate approach in this context by establishing its own institutions in the form of the Deutsche Akkreditierungs- und Zulassungsgesellschaft für Umweltgutachter mbH (German accreditation and approval corporation for environmental auditors – DAU for short) and the Environmental Auditors' Board (Umweltgutachterausschuss – UGA for short) as well as by organising decentralised EMAS registration through local chambers of commerce.
A comparative study investigated the cost-effectiveness of the German institutions and their performance relative to the corresponding structures in Austria and the United Kingdom. The study revealed distinct differences between the countries and, in some cases, considerable cost-saving potential.