EU Policy. Green claims wrangling, Newsletter

Green claims
Green claims Copyright Cleared
Copyright Cleared
By Robert HodgsonEuronews
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This week's key events presented by senior energy and environment reporter Robert Hodgson

Key diary dates


Monday 29 April: European Commission conference on the role of the EU budget will include interventions by IMF and EIB Presidents Kristalina Georgieva and Nadia Calvino, and Polish and Belgian Prime Ministers Donald Tusk and Alexander de Croo.

Monday 29 April: Diplomats to negotiate on Green Claims Directive within the EU Council.

Tuesday 30 April: EU-Japan Digital Partnership Council.

In spotlight

When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, everyone seems to be going ‘net zero’ these days – but readers may well ask just how companies from IKEA to McDonalds, let alone petroleum giants like Shell and Norway’s Equinor, plan to do it.

A switch to renewable energy (there is a growing market for power purchase agreements for green electricity) is often part of the plan. But so, in many cases, is carbon offsetting: the practice of paying someone else to cut their emissions and taking credit for it, or buying certificates attesting to trees planted or atmospheric carbon dioxide sequestered.

Offset-based assertions of the climate friendliness of products and services were recently outlawed under the ‘empowering consumers’ part of new ‘green claims’ legislation adopted in February. No more zero emissions flying, then – at least until airlines switch to low-carbon synthetic fuels.

But company-level declarations of shrinking carbon footprints are not yet covered by such rules: this front in the anti-greenwashing campaign will be covered by the Green Claims Directive proper. MEPs have taken a hard line, agreeing last month that this sort of thing should be kept to a carefully regulated minimum, with the use of outsourced offsetting only permitted for the ‘residual emissions’ that remain once a firm has taken all viable steps to reduce emissions in-house. Member states have yet to formulate a joint position on the proposal, however – and the signs are they are heading towards taking a rather less hawkish stance than the parliament.

Belgium hopes to broker an inter-governmental agreement on this key outstanding green deal proposal before its EU Council presidency ends in just over two months’ time, meaning inter-institutional talks could begin as soon as a freshly election parliament convenes in July. To this end, national delegates with gather behind closed doors on Monday for a working party discussion of a new compromise proposal.

Euronews has learned from a diplomatic source that there is not much of a “highly political” nature left to discuss – but one outstanding issue centres on the rules on the use of carbon credits - the aforementioned question of offsetting. Delegates are also expected to discuss a simplified verification procedure, amid calls to minimise the additional administrative burden on companies. Green groups are concerned, particularly in an atmosphere where competitiveness is climbing up the political agenda, that some types of claims may even be exempted from close scrutiny.

The first Belgian compromise proposal, discussed last month, was deemed too restrictive for some member states, the source said. But the “overall general mood around the table” suggested an agreement was within reach, and Belgium’s goal of securing a ‘general approach’ on one more green file before its mandate ends looks achievable.

What this means for multinationals and their green pretensions remains to be seen, however. Environmental groups are watching closely to see what demands are placed on companies: not only the extent to which they can rely on offsetting, but whether – as MEPs overwhelmingly favoured – they should be forced to reveal the decarbonisation strategies backing up their claims to the wider public, and not just on request to regulators.

Alternative für Deutschland

The arrest of his accredited assistant on charges of spying for China did not deflect from MEP Maximilian Krah, a member of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) continuing to lead his German far-right party's list for the upcoming European elections. Back in 2022, then AfD leader Jörg Meuthen quit the party amid concerns it was swinging too far right, joining a large group of MEPs who ended this legislature having left the parties they began the parliament with.  

Policy Poll

As its mandate ends, should the 10th elected EU Parliament legislature sit:

In Brussels alone

In Brussels & Strasbourg


Previous Poll results : 

Data brief

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