The Council and the Parliament have today reached a provisional political agreement on the directive to empower consumers for the green transition. The proposal aims at enhancing consumers’ rights by amending the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) and the Consumer Rights Directive (CRD) and adapting them for the green transition.
Today’s agreement maintains the main objectives of the directive but introduces some improvements, like the inclusion of unfair claims based on greenhouse emissions offsetting in the list of banned practices, stronger measures against early obsolescence, the clarification of traders’ liability in certain cases and the introduction of a harmonised format to increase the visibility of the voluntary commercial guarantee of durability, as well as improvements in the reminder on the legal guarantee of conformity.
Protecting against unfair practices
The directive to empower consumers for the green transition aims at fighting against unfair commercial practices that prevent consumers to make the right choices for greener or more circular products and services. Practices like misleading ‘greenwashing’ or false claims about products that last less than expected are among the practices that this legal text aims to address.
The provisional agreement maintains the main objectives of the directive but introduces important improvements. In particular
- improves the credibility of sustainability labels by defining the key elements of the certification scheme they have to be based on unless established by public authorities
- increases the transparency and monitoring of claims related to future environmental performance
- includes unfair claims based on greenhouse gas emissions offsetting in the list of banned commercial practices. This means that traders will not be able to claim that a product has a neutral, reduced or improved environmental impact, based on unverified offsetting programmes
- clarifies the traders’ liability in cases of information (or lack of information) on early obsolescence, unnecessary software updates or the unjustified obligation to buy spare parts from the original producer. These practices will be banned but the compromise text makes clear that the traders are only liable if there is information available on the of the design features leading to those situations
- introduces a harmonised label with information on the commercial guarantee of durability that producers offer and which will include a reference to the legal guarantee of conformity. In addition, a harmonised notice will be displayed prominently in shops and websites to give information on the legal guarantee of conformity.
- it will allow member states sufficient time to adapt to the changes in the legislation, with a transposition period of 24 months.
The provisional agreement reached with the European Parliament now needs to be endorsed and formally adopted by both institutions.
On 30 March 2022, the Commission submitted a proposal for a directive on empowering consumers for the green transition. The proposal is one of the initiatives set out in the Commission’s 2020 New Consumer Agenda and 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan and follows up the European Green Deal. It is part of a package of four proposals, together with the Ecodesign Regulation and the Directive proposals on Green Claims and the Right to Repair.