Council Adopts Position on Green Claims Directive, Prepares for European Parliament Negotiations

The European Council has adopted its official position on the Green Claims Directive, a crucial measure to combat greenwashing and enhance consumer trust in environmental claims. This directive seeks to provide consumers with reliable, verifiable, and comparable information, enabling informed decisions regarding the environmental impact of products and services.

Directive Overview

The directive targets explicit environmental claims and labels that are voluntarily used by companies to market the environmental attributes of their products. It mandates that these claims be substantiated with clear criteria and the latest scientific evidence to prevent vague, misleading, or unfounded statements.

Today, we reached an important agreement to fight greenwashing by setting rules on clear, sufficient and evidence-based information on the environmental characteristics of products and services. Our aim is to help European citizens to make well-founded green choices,” stated Alain Maron, Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for climate change, environment, energy, and participatory democracy.

Key Provisions

Clear and Evidence-Based Claims: The directive requires that all environmental claims must be clear, easy to understand, and specific about the environmental characteristics they cover, such as durability, recyclability, or biodiversity.

Prior Verification and Simplified Procedures: To ensure credibility, all environmental claims must undergo ex-ante verification by independent third-party experts. However, a simplified procedure allows certain claims to bypass this verification if companies complete a technical document proving compliance before making the claim public. Microenterprises are granted an additional 14 months to comply with these rules, along with various support measures, including guidelines, tools, financial support, and training.

Public Environmental Labels: The directive supports the creation of new public labelling schemes and exempts those regulated by EU or national law from third-party verification, provided they meet EU standards. EN ISO 14024 type 1 ecolabeling schemes, if compliant in any member state, will be recognised across the EU.

Climate-Related Claims: New requirements have been introduced for climate-related claims, including those involving carbon credits. Companies must disclose detailed information about the type and quantity of carbon credits and distinguish between contribution claims (credits for climate action) and offset claims (credits to balance emissions). For offset claims, companies must demonstrate a net-zero target and show progress towards decarbonisation.

Next Steps

The Council’s position will serve as the foundation for negotiations with the European Parliament, which is expected to begin in the new legislative cycle. This directive aligns with the European Green Deal’s commitment to achieving climate neutrality in the EU by 2050.

Background

A recent Eurobarometer survey revealed strong public support for stricter environmental claim regulations, with 90% of Europeans advocating for rigorous standards. The Green Claims Directive, proposed by the Commission on March 22, 2023, complements the directive on empowering consumers for the green transition and aims to accelerate the EU’s shift towards a circular and clean economy.

By establishing stringent requirements for environmental claims, the directive aims to curb greenwashing and empower consumers to make environmentally informed choices, thereby contributing to the EU’s overarching goal of climate neutrality by 2050.

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