APPLiA Digital Interview: What it means to empower consumers for the green transition

What does it mean to Empower Consumers for the green transition? What are the make or break factors of the Proposal? Candice Richaud, APPLiA Senior Policy Manager, Corporate, covered this and much more in the sixteenth episode of APPLiA’s digital interviews.



Watch APPLiA's sixteenth digital interview, here.

What is the goal of the EU’s Empowering Consumers initiative? 

Needless to say, consumers have a key role to play when it comes to enabling the transition to a more sustainable world, as part of the set 2030 and 2050 EU’s climate ambitions. In this context, how does the EU’s proposal for Empowering Consumers towards the green transition pave the way for a more circular EU economy? The objective of the proposal is twofold: “first providing consumers with an additional set of information before they buy a product so that they could make more sustainable purchasing choices” began Richaud, “and second banning some environmental claims that could mislead consumers, what is commonly known as greenwashing,” Richaud explained. 

How does the proposal fit into the consumer rights landscape? 

To increase levels of consumer participation in the circular economy, we must first ensure the consumer rights landscape protects the rights of the consumer appropriately. Here, the proposal would amend two important consumer laws, respectively 1. the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Consumer Rights Directive. The first regulates what businesses can and cannot do when marketing and selling their products. In this regard, Richaud explained how the Commission proposal would be introduced to further regulate business’ commercial practices, with a focus on environmental claims. The second Directive rules instead so-called “pre-contractual information that consumers must have at the time of purchase,” detailed Richaud. With the proposed changes, more details about the durability and repair opportunities of a product, where available, would be given,” she continued. 

What are the home appliance sector’s main concerns around the initiative? 

With the currently proposed information requirements, “consumers could be exposed to an information overload,” pointed out Richaud, “with the risk of overlooking relevant aspects, such as product safety or energy performance,” she continued. On top of this is also the recent legislative trend of mixing up concepts; “this is the case of legal and commercial guarantees,” often referred to interchangeably, but also of the definition durability which “is varied according to different Commision proposals,” highlighted Richaud, stressing the need for greater coherence in order to avoid different interpretation and implementation by different actors.  

What is key to ensuring a successful proposal? 

The EU’s proposed Empowering Consumers is part of a broader legislative picture, echoing the Sustainable Products Initiative and articulating with the Green Claims and Ecodesign for Sustainable Products proposals, among others. Pivotal to its successful implementation is ensuring all pieces of legislation are implemented in a consistent and coherent way, “with an eye to produce the positive effects it wants to bring to the consumers and to the market,” concluded Richaud.

Watch the full interview at this link.