The proposed Green Claims Directive – Targeting Market Transparency for a Green Transition in Europe

Impacts for all market players

In March 2023, the European Commission presented a proposal for a Directive on substantiation and communication of explicit environmental claims – the Green Claims Directive. It is one puzzle piece of the EU Green Deal (2019), under which the European Union has been working on a complete overhaul of policies to create a coherent framework for a more sustainable, circular and finally climate neutral economic system.

Why green claims play a role for the green transition in Europe

Empowering consumers to make informed choices for sustainable consumption has been an important aspect of the EU’s strategy for a green transition for a while now and banishing greenwashing of products is a core pillar of this activity. The New Consumer Agenda and the Circular Economy Action Plan both contain elements that strive to improve the transparency of product communication.

In September 2023, the Parliament and Council announced that they had found an agreement for the Directive to Empower Consumers for the Green Transition, which is somewhat of a complementary precursor of the Green Claims Directive. A lot of media outlets reported that claims such as “climate neutral” are not allowed anymore under EU law following this Directive. This refers to the agreement that generic claims will be prohibited unless there is evidence of outstanding environmental performance that justifies such a claim. Building on these previous documents, the proposed Green Claims Directive now has the role to introduce the rules for substantiating claims.

What is covered by the proposed Green Claims Directive?

According to the Commission’s proposal, the Green Claims Directive would cover voluntary claims that state or imply a positive environmental impact and that are not regulated elsewhere. ‘Voluntary’, because sustainability and ecological footprints of products can be advertised, but do not have to be. ‘Not regulated elsewhere’ means that – for example – claims under the EU Ecolabel, the energy efficiency label or the organic farming label would not be impacted by the newly proposed Directive, since EU legislation already establishes more specific rules for those.

The rules for substantiating claims include that a claim must be relevant to the product or company in question; that it must rely on recognized scientific evidence; that the environmental impacts subject to the claim are significant from a life-cycle perspective; and more. The proposed Directive also includes rules for communication, new labelling schemes and the requirements for certification bodies.

For more specific information on the required evidence, please see also the article “How to be green – What is a valid scientific proof for environmental claims?”.

Impacts for all market actors targeting European consumers

The new rules as proposed by the Commission are binding both for European companies and those that produce outside the EU, but want to sell on the EU market. It is a core element of the legislation that it should create fair conditions for those companies that already act responsibly in terms of environmental product communication. Any company already conducting proper assessments based on standardised LCA methodology and/or working with credible certification bodies is expected to face little change. However, the current state of play of green marketing indicates that a significant number of companies will have to review their practices. In many cases, outside expertise will be helpful to ensure compliance with the new rules.

Next steps and implementation in the Member States

So far, the Green Claims Directive is only a proposal by the European Commission. At the moment, both the European Parliament and the Council – the other two legislative chambers of the European Union – are considering the dossier and negotiating their own positions. After that, the three bodies will get together for further negotiations – the so-called trilogue. After agreement, the EU will have to formally adopt the legal document. After publication, it will have to be translated into national law by all Member States within 24 months. Originally, formal adoption was announced for November 2023, but this deadline seems untenable at the moment of writing this article, since even committee decision is pending as of end of November.

For further information on the Green Claims Directive, check the Commission’s Q&A under

Or feel free to get in touch with Lara Dammer (Head of the department Policy & Economy):


nova-Institut GmbH, press release 2023-12-12


European Commission
European Parliament
nova-Institut GmbH


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