Korb mit Umweltzeichen-Produkten

Green Claims Directive against greenwashing

The European Commission has presented a new law to combat misleading environmental claims. With it, Brussels wants to take stronger action against greenwashing.

The draft directive on environmental claims ("Green Claims Directive") published on 22.3.2023 aims to curb greenwashing and better enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions based on reliable environmental information about the products they buy. It covers voluntary environmental claims about the environmental impact of a product or trader, but not EU-regulated labels such as the EU Ecolabel or the organic label. Companies that violate the regulations must expect consequences. These range from fines to confiscation of revenues and temporary exclusion from public contracts and public funds.

40 percent of environmental claims "completely baseless"

A Commission study published in 2020 found that 40 per cent of environmental claims made by companies were "completely unfounded", and more than half of environmental claims were "vague, misleading or baseless". To counter this, the proposal now on the table aims to ensure that environmental claims are validated with credible and adequate substantiation. The proposal refers to "explicit environmental claims" that relate to the environmental impacts, aspects or performance of a product or the trader and take a "life cycle" approach, from raw materials to the end of life.

The information would have to be transparent and easily accessible to consumers via a web link or QR code. Micro-enterprises, i.e. companies with less than 10 employees or a turnover of less than 2 million euros, are currently exempt from the regulation.

Stricter rules for Ecolabels

To counteract the proliferation of new Ecolabels and to strengthen confidence in existing ones, the Commission proposes tighter controls and enforcement based on certification by independent auditors. In future, new public schemes are to be permitted only within the framework of EU law, new private schemes only if added value can be demonstrated to the national authorities responsible for their approval.

The draft thus complements the provisions of the draft Directive on Empowering Consumers for Environmental Change on the use of Ecolabels, which was presented in March last year and which provides for a ban on Ecolabels based on self-certification. Labels with aggregated scores (when a set of environmental impacts is grouped together and the consumer is given:in this aggregated score) should no longer be allowed.

Deposited criteria

Originally, the Commission wanted to base its proposal on a single method - the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) - to prove environmentally friendly claims. The EU Commission no longer pursues this approach in the version now available, i.e. the assessment is basically open to methods. Only the minimum criteria for substantiation are specified.

Verification of Green Claims and Ecolabels by independent testing bodies

What is completely new is that an independent inspection body checks the environmental claims and Ecolabels used by a company - even before the Green Claim is used. In the case of a positive assessment, the inspection body is to issue a certificate valid throughout the EU, with which the companies are to be able to use the Green Claim in all Member States without hesitation. These inspection bodies are to be set up by the member states.


The draft of the Green Claims Directive will now be discussed in a next step in the European Parliament and the European Council.

Further information can be found here.