2.5.2. Overview of specific EU legislation on environmental claims

(a) Organic labels are defined and regulated under Regulation (EC) n°834/2007[51] which provides for a list of terms and abbreviations (such as "bio" or "eco") that can be used in the labelling, advertising material or commercial documents of products which satisfy the requirements set out under this Regulation.

The misleading use of such labels is prohibited under article 23 of the Regulation:

"2. The terms referred to in paragraph 1 shall not be used anywhere in the Community and in any Community language for the labelling, advertising and commercial documents of a product which does not satisfy the requirements set out under this Regulation, unless they are not applied to agricultural products in food or feed or clearly have no connection with organic production.

Furthermore, any terms, including terms used in trademarks, or practices used in labelling or advertising liable to mislead the consumer or user by suggesting that a product or its ingredients satisfy the requirements set out under this Regulation shall not be used.

3. The terms referred to in paragraph 1 shall not be used for a product for which it has to be indicated in the labelling or advertising that it contains GMOs, consists of GMOs or is produced from GMOs according to Community provisions."

The Regulation also provides for rules concerning processed food and for compulsory indications and logos.

(b) Energy labelling is regulated by Directive 92/75/EEC[52]. Household appliances offered for sale, hire or hire-purchase must be accompanied by a fiche and a label providing information relating to their consumption of energy (electrical or other) or of other essential resources.

Misleading use of such labels is prohibited under article 7(b) of the Directive:

"if this is likely to mislead or confuse, the display of other labels, marks, symbols or inscriptions relating to energy consumption which do not comply with the requirements of this Directive and of the relevant implementing directives is prohibited. This prohibition shall not apply to Community or national environmental labelling schemes".[53]

(c) The labelling of tyres will be regulated by the Regulation on the labelling of tyres with respect to fuel efficiency and other essential parameters[54] which provides that tyre manufacturers will have to declare the fuel efficiency, wet grip and external rolling noise performance of C1, C2 and C3 tyres (i.e. tyres mainly fitted on passenger cars, light and heavy duty vehicles). From 1 November 2012, these performances will be displayed at the point of sale by means of a label in printed format displayed in the immediate proximity of the tyres at the point of sale or a sticker attached to the tyre tread. According to Article 4 and 5 of the Regulation, the performance of tyres will also have to be stated on or with the bill delivered to end-users when they purchase tyres as well as on technical promotional literature such as catalogues, leaflets or web marketing.

(d) Fuel and CO2 labelling: under Directive 1999/94/EC[55] a fuel economy label must be displayed next to all new passenger cars at the point of sale. This label must be clearly visible and meet certain requirements set out in Annex I. In particular, it must contain the official data on fuel consumption, expressed in litres per 100 kilometres or in kilometres per litre (or in miles per gallon), and of CO2 emissions in g/km.

Article 7 provides that "The Member States shall ensure that the presence on labels, guides, posters or promotional literature and material referred to in Articles 3, 4, 5 and 6 of other marks, symbols or inscriptions relating to fuel consumption or CO2 emissions which do not comply with the requirements of this Directive is prohibited, if their display might cause confusion to potential consumers of new passenger cars."

Besides this, Annex IV provides for prescriptive rules regarding promotional literature for cars:

"The Member States must ensure that all promotional literature contains the official fuel consumption and official specific CO2 emissions data of the vehicles to which it refers. This information should, as a minimum, meet the following requirements:

1. be easy to read and no less prominent than the main part of the information provided in the promotional literature;

2. be easy to understand even on superficial contact;

3. official fuel consumption data should be provided for all different car models to which the promotional material covers. If more than one model is specified then either the official fuel consumption data for all the models specified is included or the range between the worst and best fuel consumption is stated. Fuel consumption is expressed in either liters per 100 kilometers (l/100 km), kilometers per liter (km/l) or an appropriate combination of these. All numerical data are quoted to one decimal place.

Such values may be expressed in different units (gallons and miles) to the extent compatible with the provisions of Directive 80/181/EEC.

If the promotional literature only contains reference to the make, and not to any particular model, then fuel consumption data need not be provided."

(e) Fuel mix disclosure is required by the Electricity Directive 2003/54/EC[56] which provides for an obligation on Member States to ensure that electricity suppliers specify in or with the bills and in promotional material made available to customers:

"(a) the contribution of each energy source to the overall fuel mix of the supplier over the preceding year;

(b) at least the reference to existing reference sources, such as web-pages, where information on the environmental impact, in terms of at least emissions of the CO2 and the radioactive waste resulting from the electricity produced by the overall fuel mix of the supplier over the preceding year is publicly available."

With respect to electricity obtained via an electricity exchange or imported from an undertaking located outside the EU, aggregate figures provided by the exchange or the undertaking in question over the preceding year may be used.

(f) Eco-labels may be awarded to products which meet certain environmental requirements during the life cycle of the product under Regulation 1980/2000[57] (currently being recast).

Article 10(1) of the recast new Regulation provides that "Any false or misleading advertising or use of any label or logo which leads to confusion with the Community Ecolabel shall be prohibited".


[51] Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 of 28 June 2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91, OJ L 189, 20.7.2007, p. 1-23

[52] Council Directive 92/75/EEC of 22 September 1992 on the indication by labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by household appliances, OJ L 297, 13.10.1992, p. 16-19

[53] The proposal of a recast of Directive 1992/75/EEC is currently at the final stage of the legislative process. When it enters into force, it will give a mandate to the Commission to adopt labeling measures on specific products. The scope of the labeling Directive will be extended to all energy-related products which, when offered for sale, hire or hire-purchase, will have to be accompanied by a fiche and a label providing information relating to the product's energy consumption and, if relevant, other resources. The well-known A-G scale (and for fridges, A+ and A++ classes) will remain in use, with the possibility to open the scale up to classes A+/A++/A+++ and the consumers will, at all times, be aware of the best available class on the market as the Directive will require that the dark green color should always indicate the best class. Unauthorized use of the label will be prohibited and Member States will be able to put in various penalties in this case when implementing the Directive. The new Directive also reinforces market surveillance provisions in line with Regulation n° 765/2008/EC that aim to minimize non-compliance. A new element of the recast is the introduction of mandatory advertising: "any advertisement for a specific model of energy-related products covered by an implementing measure under this Directive includes, where energy-related or price information is disclosed, a reference to the energy efficiency class of the product" (Article 4(2)(a)).

[54] The Regulation was adopted on 25 November 2009. It should be published in the OJ beginning of January 2010 and will enter into force 20 days after its publication.

[55] Directive 1999/94/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 1999 relating to the availability of consumer information on fuel economy and CO2 emissions in respect of the marketing of new passenger cars, OJ L 12, 18.1.2000, p. 16-23

[56] Directive 2003/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2003 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity and repealing Directive 96/92/EC, OJ L 176, 15.7.2003, p. 37-56.

[57] Regulation (EC) No 1980/2000 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 July 2000 on a revised Community eco-label award scheme, OJ L 237, 21.9.2000, p. 1-12.

Links to articles of the Directive