The European Commission has finally published its eagerly awaited Proposal for a Directive on substantiation and communication of explicit environmental claims (‘the Green Claims Proposal’). As its name suggests, the Proposal was crafted with a view to putting an end to non-mandatory consumer-facing claims of environmental benefit that bear no relation to reality (so-called ‘greenwashing’). 

This update analyses what it might entail for businesses that make environmental claims intended for the EU market.  Once the Proposal enters into force, explicit environmental claims will have to undergo self-assessment and certification prior to appearing on the market. Environmental Labels will also require Commission or Member State pre-approval. That in itself may create a climate that is not prompt for businesses to engage in what is likely to become a very difficult, heavily regulated area. The Green Claims Proposal should be read in conjunction with other Commission proposals, such as the Proposal on ecodesign for sustainable products and the Proposal on consumer empowerment which each bring their own restrictions. Until all of these Proposals have entered into force numerous uncertainties remain as to application of the future legal framework in practice.

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