The Ninth Legislature of the European Parliament has seen significant efforts towards environmental sustainability through the European Green Deal. This ambitious initiative, spearheaded by the von der Leyen Commission, aims to bring about a comprehensive “Green transition” across various sectors. However, despite initial enthusiasm and promises of large-scale change in a relatively short period, the Green Deal has proved to be less consensual than expected, and several of the key legislative initiatives involved have been shelved, voted down, or significantly altered to account for national and political sensibilities.

Key steps are being taken to ensure that chemicals and fertilisers are properly labelled and that such information is easily accessible by European citizens. The two flagship proposals in this regard are the revision of the existing Classification, Labelling, and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (CLP) Regulation and adoption of the new Digital Labelling of Fertilisers Regulation, both of which are expected to happen before the end of 2024.

The CLP Regulation covers a wider array of topics, including minimum dimensions for labels, pictograms, and font sizes on packaging to ensure clear and reliable information for consumers, as well as the possibility to introduce accessible digital labelling. The Digital Labelling of Fertilisers Regulation aims to reduce the costs associated with packaging and labelling of such products in multiple languages, while making accurate information easily accessible by all interested citizens.

However, not all initiatives have made it further than the drawing board. Two notable examples are the proposed revision of the REACH Regulation and the Sustainable Food System framework initiative. There were high expectations for both of these, particularly in civil society, as they were seen as crucial steps towards more sustainable governance in chemicals and agri-food policy, respectively. However, political challenges that have affected the Green Deal in a broader sense have also taken their toll on these proposals, with both having been shelved by the Commission.

As the European Parliament elections approach and the Tenth Legislature is due to be inaugurated in July, assessing the successes and shortcomings of the Green Deal from its inception to the present day becomes imperative. It is, however, impossible to do so without taking into consideration the substantial political and economic changes Europe and the world have undergone in the early 2020s.

The initiatives surrounding chemicals and fertilisers reflect the EU's commitment to enhancing transparency and consumer safety in environmental policy. Yet, the delays in other key legislative areas suggest that the journey towards a fully realized Green Deal is still fraught with obstacles. The next legislative term will be crucial in determining whether the EU can overcome these hurdles and deliver on its ambitious environmental promises.