This afternoon I and my counterpart at the Committee of Regions, Gerhard Stahl, jointly chaired a last coordination meeting of our joint and separate services before this autumn’s final EMAS audit.  To explain, the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is a management tool for companies and other organisations to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance. The scheme has been available for participation by companies since 1995 and was originally restricted to companies in industrial sectors. Since 2001, however, EMAS has been open to all economic sectors including public and private services. The two Committees are enthusiatic participants in the scheme. Indeed, the project is a joint flagship initiative of the two administrations in the field of sustainable and environment friendly development. After several years of hard work we are now fast approaching the finishing line of the procedure that will hopefully grant us the EMAS award and certificate. Until now, no other EU institution has been able to obtain this prestigious recognition of its environmental efforts for all of its staff and buildings, so our two Committees will be the first! At this week’s meeting we took the last necessary decisions in order to have everything ready for the final external verification procedure. Thanks to our excellent colleagues, everything is going swimmingly.