Welcome to Better Europe’s weekly update on EU Affairs.
EUROPE BIDS GOODBYE TO OFFSETTING CLAIMS BY EMPOWERING CONSUMERS
With an overwhelming majority, the Parliament this week adopted the agreement on the Empowering Consumers Directive (ECD) aimed at combatting greenwashing (for EU nerds, it amends the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Consumers Rights Directive). The deal includes a ban on claims based on carbon offsetting and provisions to ensure that sustainability labels are based on a verified certification scheme. What does this mean in practice? As of 2026, when the rules are expected to apply, companies will no longer be allowed to claim that their products and/or services are “climate neutral” or “climate positive”. Companies can also no longer require consumers to replace parts or update software before it is actually necessary. It is a key milestone to ensure that customers can make conscious and informed choices. ECD is part of a wave of consumer protection and green transition files, including the Green Claims Directive currently under negotiation, the Right to Repair Directive, and the Ecodesign Regulation.
THE EU NEEDS TO SPEED UP EMISSIONS REDUCTION EFFORTS, NEW REPORT SAYS
The EU is not on track to meet its emissions reduction objectives, says the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change (ESABCC) in its latest report published on Thursday. While Green Deal fatigue has been pushed by many for political gain across the continent, including in a leaked draft of the 2024 EU election manifesto of the European People’s Party, the ESABCC calls on the implementation of additional measures to ensure that the EU meets its 90% emissions reduction target envisaged by the Commission for 2040. The report, among other things, looks into the social acceptability of green policies, as it recognises that some recommendations can be particularly disrupting for the most vulnerable parts of the population if they are not accompanied by adequate compensation measures. These will be of particular importance in Member States where meeting emissions reduction targets will require a massive restructuring of economic activities, such as Poland which still has a large coal mining industry. This will of be of highest priority for the newly established Polish government, and especially its new state secretary for climate Urszula Zielińska who confirmed Poland is really back in the game at an informal meeting of the EU’s Environment Council on Monday.
TRILOGUE DEALS PUT AT RISK AS DEADLINE TO CONCLUDE LEGISLATION APPROACHES
As EU co-legislators aim to wrap up over 100 outstanding files ahead of the double deadline of 9 February and 15 March for concluding trilogue agreements, a worrying pattern is starting to appear. In the last weeks, two hard-fought political trilogue deals, celebrated by traditional “family” photos widely shared on social media, were reopened or put at serious risk. In December, France provoked a re-opening of negotiations by blocking the deal on the Platform Work Directive in a meeting of member state ambassadors (Coreper), after it was agreed between the Spanish Presidency and the Parliament. Similarly, the German governing coalition party FDP this week issued a public call to “stop the EU supply chain directive”, calling for the rejection of the agreement on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) due to what the FDP claims is a disproportionate administrative burden. The file was concluded at political level in December, leaving only a few technical meetings to be conducted this month. It is yet to be seen how the FDP’s position will weigh on the vote of Germany in the Council, and whether or not the CSDDD will be formally adopted ahead of the elections.