In a significant development, the European Parliament and Council have recently reached a preliminary agreement on a set of new regulations designed to combat misleading advertising and provide consumers with more accurate product information. This agreement aims to strengthen consumer rights and tackle deceptive marketing practices, including greenwashing and planned uselessness of products.
At the heart of this agreement is a commitment to safeguarding consumers from misleading practices, empowering them to make more informed choices when purchasing goods. In today’s market, where consumers are inundated with information and choices, ensuring transparency and honesty in advertising is crucial.
1. What’s new?
The agreement specifies a range of practices that will be prohibited under the new regulations:
a. generic environmental claims: advertisements using terms such as “environmentally friendly“, “natural“, “biodegradable“, “climate neutral” or “eco” will need to provide substantial evidence of their environmental performance.
b. durability limits: products featuring durability-limiting aspects must disclose this information and its impact on the product’s longevity.
c. emissions offset claims: claims suggesting that a product has a neutral, reduced, or positive environmental impact due to emissions offsetting schemes will be subject to scrutiny.
d. sustainability labels: labels claiming sustainability must be backed by recognized certification schemes or established by public authorities.
e. durability claims: assertions regarding the lifespan or intensity of a product under normal conditions will need to be substantiated.
f. encouraging premature replacement: advertisements that encourage consumers to replace consumables, such as printer ink cartridges, earlier than necessary, will be prohibited.
g. software updates: misrepresenting software updates as essential when they only enhance functionality features will not be allowed.
h. false repairability claims: products will not be allowed to be portrayed as repairable when they are not.
2. A Boost for Guarantees
One noteworthy aspect of this agreement is its emphasis on guarantee information. Many consumers are unaware that all products sold in the European Union come with a minimum two-year guarantee. In response, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) successfully pushed for guarantee information to be made more visible to consumers. Furthermore, the European Commission has been tasked with developing a new label for manufacturers willing to highlight their product quality by extending the guarantee period without additional charges.
The EU’s Parliament and Council’s commitment to addressing misleading advertising practices is a significant step toward encouraging consumer protection in the region. These new regulations are meant to enhance transparency, encourage responsible advertising, and ultimately empower consumers to make more informed choices when shopping.
To become enforceable legislation, the provisional agreement must now receive ultimate approval from both the Parliament and the Council. The voting process by MEPs is anticipated to occur in November.