New EU Consumer Rights Against Greenwashing Inch Closer to Approval

The European Council, one of the EU’s key legislative bodies, has adopted its position on a proposal to amend EU consumer rules on greenwashing.

The proposal is set to add new powers to a Consumer Rights Directive to reinforce consumer rights against alleged greenwashing.

The Council supported a “total ban” on vague and unsubstantiated statements on products. These include statements such “eco-friendly”, “green” or “climate neutral”.

Claims like these can only be made if they are certified by a publicly accessible scheme or initiative. Only products based on official certification schemes, registered as certification marks or public authorities will be allowed to use these statements after the regulation comes into effect.

The Council proposed an amendment suggesting that the “monitoring of compliance for such schemes should be objective, based on international, [European] Union, or national standards and procedures and carried out by a party independent from both the scheme owner and the trader. The independent third party should play an important role in ensuring compliance with the certification scheme and is expected to sufficiently fulfil requirements and to have sufficient procedures in place to ensure its own competence and independence.”

The Council also added that there should be a case-by-case assessment of each claim. It also said commitments and targets should be backed by a realistic implementation plan that shows how these commitments were achieved.

The proposal will now be taken up by the European Parliament. If approved, it will be included into EU Member States’ legislation and consumers will be entitled to representative litigation before national courts in greenwashing allegations.

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News that the EU could clamp down on greenwashing allegations unless they are backed by public certification can be daunting. Companies can find it difficult to ensure they will not face these allegations.

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