Minister Peretz (l) and Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Cabinet Meeting. Photo: Amit Shaavi

Cabinet OKs Green Licensing Process
Minister Peretz (l) and Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Cabinet Meeting 
Photo: Amit Shaavi 
The Israeli cabinet has unanimously approved the Ministry of Environmental Protecion (MoEP)’s plan to streamline all existing environmental permits into one integrated permit. Integrated environmental licensing, or "green licensing," as it is known, will significantly reduce beauracracy for factories and plants, and will bring Israel’s environmental standards more in line with European Union standards. Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz, in cooperation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, introduced the plan at the ministerial meeting on Sunday, April 6, 2014.

​Green licensing will provide regulatory certainty for business owners that does not exist today, as permits will be integrated and valid for seven years, a longer period of time than current permits. This certainty will spur growth and increase competition. The less buearacratic process will also mean fewer expenses for business owners. In addition, the process will result in more in-depth inspections and supervision of the most polluting factories. All of this will make Israeli companies more competitive in the global market and will lead to lower prices for the Israeli consumer.

Today, a business owner must receive several different environmental permits from several different departments within the ministry. These include approval for a business license, air emissions permits, poison permits, hazardous waste removal permits, discharge or dumping into the sea (a different permit for each type of material). Each permit lasts for a different period of time, and some of those time periods are relatively short (sometimes just one or three years). Thus, the owner must begin the tedious process of once again applying for all the different necessary permits within a couple of years after receiving them, and (s)he cannot even do the entire application process at one time. What’s more, the business owner must receive permits from other regulators, and sometimes gets conflicting environmental instructions from each regulator. This results in loss of time and increased expenses.

Minister Peretz: "With this new licensing plan, Israel is taking an environmental quantum leap toward the European Directive [on Industrial Emissions]. This new licensing will allow for green growth, efficient regulation, and strict protection of the environment. We will not compromise in terms of environmental requirements. We are beginning a process that will, on one hand increase supervision and monitoring of facilities, and together with that will reduce beauracracy involved in receiving environmental permits. One integrated license will include most of the necessary approvals and will be valid for a long period of time, in order to allow for stability and long-term planning for industry."

The principles of an integrated license have been the subject of discussion and debate for more than a year among the Ministries of Environmental Protection and Economy, environmental organizations, and the Manufacturers’ Association. With the cabinet’s approval of the plan, the MoEP will begin a legislative process to ensure that integrated licensing becomes part of Israeli law.

The integrated license program is a harbinger for a plan to reduce regulation in Israel in general, being formulated by the Prime Minister’s Office. Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized that "reducing and simplifying the regulatory process is part of Israel’s strategic goal." He said that Israeli regulation must undergo a fundamental change, and that the MoEP’s actions have brought the government closer to this goal. PMO Director General Harel Locker noted, "The Green Licensing process is a first step… [that] will allow business to regulate all their licenses at a one-stop shop, in an efficient and convenient manner, and will create a certainty and calmness for years while also protecting the environment." This type of certainty, Locker added, "is greasing the wheels of the economy… [the PMO is] adopting the process that was led by Minister Peretz as gospel, and as a model for other ministries and regualtors."