Insights Green Claims: European Parliament adopts negotiating position on proposed Directive

In March 2023, the European Commission published a proposed Directive on the substantiation and communication of explicit environmental claims (“Green Claims Directive”) to address what it sees as the proliferation of misleading or unfounded claims, “greenwashing,” which may arise by the use of terms such as “eco-friendly,” “carbon neutral” or “recycled.” Wiggin previously provided a summary of the proposed Directive and an update on the amendments adopted in February 2024 by the two European Parliament Committees responsible for the Directive. The text adopted by those committees has now become available.

In summary, the committees decided that the verification of environmental claims and environmental labelling schemes (a new requirement under the Directive) should be completed by the designated verification authorities within 30 days. The verifier may extend the period for verification for more than 30 days in duly justified cases. Verifiers should provide an estimation of the period of the verification procedure to the company on the date when the request for verification is submitted. Member States should ensure that the cost of verification and certification takes into account the complexity of the substantiation of the claim, and the size and turnover of companies requesting verification and certification, with particular regard to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. Within 18 months of the entry into force of the proposed Directive, the European Commission should establish, through a delegated act (EU secondary legislation adopted by the Commission that supplements or amends certain non-essential elements of a parent EU act), a simplified verification system allowing companies to benefit from a simplified procedure for certain environmental claims. Within 18 months of the entry into force of the proposed Directive, the Commission should also provide a report on the use of environmental claims on products containing hazardous substances to determine whether they should be banned. The adopted text also adds provisions stating that environmental claims that a product has a neutral, reduced or positive environmental impact based on the use of carbon credits would be banned. Climate-related compensation and emission reduction claims based on carbon credits could only be used for residual emissions of a company through carbon credits certified under the recently agreed Regulation establishing an EU certification framework for carbon removals. Finally, the proposed Directive would apply to small companies 42 months after its entry into force, as opposed to 24 months for everyone else in scope.

The European Parliament voted to accept the Committees’ adopted text on 12 March 2023. This will form the basis of Parliament’s negotiating position when it enters trilogue negotiations on the Directive with the Council of the EU. Before that, the Council must also publish its negotiating position.  However, these steps are now unlikely to take place before the Parliament elections in June.

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