European Commission publishes proposal for Green Claims Directive

22 March 2023

The European Commission has published its long-awaited proposal for an EU Directive to prevent Greenwashing. The new law intends to set common criteria against misleading environmental claims in the EU member states. Consumers shall get more clarity, if something is sold as “green” and better information shall be provided to choose environment-friendly products and services. The legal efforts are also meant to encourage businesses to improve the sustainability of their products as they will be more easily recognised by consumers.

According to a study of the European Commission, over 50% examined environmental claims in the EU were found to be vague, misleading or unfounded. The absence of common rules for companies in the EU currently lead to a risk of Greenwashing. The proposal for the new Green Claims Directive intends to request companies to comply with certain standards and norms on the communication of their green claims. Before companies communicate any of the covered types of claims to consumers, the statements need to be verified independently and based on proven scientific evidence. As part of the scientific analysis, companies also need to provide a full and accurate picture of the environmental impacts of their products.

The proposed Directive also tackles the use of labels as well as the introduction of new environmental labels. Several rules will make sure that claims are communicated clearly. There are currently more than 200 different labels in the EU and there is evidence this leads to a confusion of consumers. To control the proliferation of such labels, new public labelling schemes will not be allowed, unless they are developed at an EU level. New private schemes will need to demonstrate an enhanced environmental ambition than existing ones to be authorised. The new law also contains detailed general rules on environmental labels as they must be reliable, transparent, independently verified, and regularly reviewed.

More information on the proposal can be found here. The draft of the Green Claims Directive is available here.