What’s happening with the EU Green Deal?

Wondering where we stand on the EU Green Deal? Here’s a look at key measures and milestones on the road to reducing greenhouse emissions.  

Diletta Manago

by Diletta Managò

The EU Green Deal represents the multisectoral – and ambitious – initiative set out in 2019 by the EU Commission to fight climate change. At its core, is the overarching objective of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 

The idea? To combine efforts across different policy areas, such as energy, industry, infrastructure, biodiversity, food and agriculture, for a radical transformation of Europe’s society and economy.  

The result? A whirlwind of proposals and plans that companies are trying to keep track of. Here’s a look at the global set of policies the Commission has laid out – and what to look for next.  

Key milestones of the EU Green Deal

  • Coming soon: It’s likely that we’ll soon see the approval of some Fit for 55 proposals. However, it’s very complicated to give dates (even approximately) as the Council and Parliament need to approve the same text, and this could require several back-and-forths. Check back for an update when it happens!

  • 10 March 2023: The European Parliament and the Council reach a provisional agreement to reform and strengthen the EU Energy Efficiency Directive. This agreement wants to establish an EU energy efficiency target of 11.7% for 2030, and require EU Member States to achieve new savings each year of 1.49% of final energy consumption on average, from 2024 to 2030, up from the current level of 0.8%, to gradually reach 1.9% by the end of 2030.

  • 14 February 2023: The Commission proposes new CO2 emissions targets for new heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) from 2030 onwards. Specifically, this proposal includes 45% emissions reductions from 203, 65% from 2035,.and 90% from 2040. In addition, the Commission proposes to make all new city buses zero-emission as of 2030.

  • 13 February 2023: The Commission proposes rules to define what constitutes renewable hydrogen in the EU, with the adoption of two Delegated Acts required under the Renewable Energy Directive. These Acts will ensure that all renewable fuels of non-biological origin (also known as RFNBOs) are produced from renewable electricity. In particular, the first Delegated Act defines under which conditions hydrogen (including, hydrogen-based fuels) can be considered as an RFNBO, and clarifies that electrolysers to produce hydrogen will have to be connected to new renewable electricity production.

  • 24 January 2023: The Commission proposes a ’A New Deal for Pollinators’ to tackle the alarming decline in wild pollinating insects in Europe. Among other things, this proposal aims at improving pollinator conservation and tackling the causes of their decline.

  • 18 December 2022: The European Parliament and Council reach a provisional agreement to strengthen the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), apply emissions trading to new sectors for effective economy-wide climate action, and establish a Social Climate Fund. The goals of this agreement are: reducing emissions from the EU ETS sectors by 62% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels (meaning an increase of 19 percentage points compared to the 43% reduction under the existing legislation), and increasing the speed of annual emission reductions, from 2.2% per year under the current system to 4.3% from 2024 to 2027 and 4.4% from 2028.  

  • 9 December 2022: The European Parliament and the Council reach a deal to help make the aviation sector ‘Fit for 55′, setting in law its contribution to the target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Among other things, this deal will phase out free allowances for the aviation sector by 2026 and provide for a new support scheme to speed up the use of sustainable aviation fuels.

  • 6 December 2022: The European Parliament and the Council reach a political agreement on an EU Regulation on deforestation-free supply chains. This agreement would require companies to conduct strict due diligence if they place on the EU market, or export from it: palm oil, cattle, soy, coffee, cocoa, timber and rubber as well as derived products (such as beef, furniture, or chocolate). 

  • 30 November 2022: The Commission proposes new EU-wide rules on packaging, and adopts a proposal for a first EU-wide voluntary framework to reliably certify high-quality carbon removals. The proposed revision of the EU legislation on Packaging and Packaging Waste has three main objectives: to prevent the generation of packaging waste, boost high quality (‘closed loop’) recycling, and reduce the need for primary natural resources. On the other hand, the proposal on the certification of carbin removals includes rules for the independent verification of carbon removals, and to recognise certification schemes. For instance, it would require carbon removal activities to be measured accurately and go beyond existing practices, and certificates to be linked to the duration of carbon storage.

  • 10 November 2022: The Commission presents a proposal to reduce air pollution from new motor vehicles sold. This proposal aims, among other things, to better control emissions of air pollutants from all new vehicles, update and tighten the limits for pollutant emissions, regulate emissions from brakes and tyres, ensure that new cars stay clean for longer, and support the deployment of electric vehicles. In addition, the Commission adopts a revised EU Action Plan to put an end to illegal wildlife trade. The revised plan has four main priorities, preventing wildlife trafficking and addressing its root causes, strengthening the legal and policy framework against wildlife trafficking, enforcing regulations and policies to fight wildlife trafficking effectively, and strengthening the global partnership of source, consumer, and transit countries against wildlife trafficking.

  • 26 October 2022: The Commission presents a proposal for stronger rules on ambient air, surface and groundwater pollutants, and treatment of urban wastewater. This proposal intends to both tighten allowed levels of pollutants and improve implementation measures to help ensure that pollution reduction goals are reached.

  • 15 September 2022: The Commission proposes an emergency intervention in Europe’s energy markets to tackle price rises.

  • 20 July 2022: The Commission proposes a new legislative tool and a European Gas Demand Reduction Plan, to reduce gas use in Europe by 15% until spring 2023. 
  •  22 June 2022: The Commission adopts the nature protection package. These proposals aim to repair damages to European ecosystems, as well as halve the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 2030. The package will help restore, for instance, wetlands, rivers, forests and urban environments. 


  • 18 May 2022: The Commission presents the REPowerEU. It’s a plan aimed to foster the EU’s energy independency. To do so, it seeks to diversify gas supplies, speed up the roll-out of renewable gases, as well as replace gas in heating and power generation. 


  • 5 April 2022: The Commission introduces its proposals to update the EU industrial emissions rules. The goal is to guide the industrial investments necessary for Europe’s zero-pollution transformation, by, for instance, making permitting more effective, reducing administrative costs, improving installations’ environmental and energy performance, and spurring innovation. 


  • 30 March 2022: The Commission presents its proposals to make sustainable products the norm in the EU. This set of rules aims to make almost all physical goods on the EU market more environmentally friendly. The proposed measure will affect products’ entire lifecycle, from the design phase through to daily use, and end-of-life. 


  • 15 December 2021: The Commission adopts a set of legislative proposals to decarbonise the EU gas market. Their goal is to ensure energy security, as well as help decarbonise the energy the EU consumes thorough the uptake of renewable and low carbon gases, including hydrogen.  


  • 14 December 2021: The Commission adopts four proposals to modernise the EU’s transport system. They intend to cut emissions by in the transport sector, by, among others, promoting alternative refuelling infrastructure, and new digital technologies, as well as shifting more passengers and freight to rail and inland waterways. 



  • 14 July 2021: The Commission presents its Fit for 55 Package, a set of proposals to deliver the target to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and, overall, make the European Green Deal a reality. The package tackles, among others, the Effort Sharing Regulation, Renewable Energy Directive, Energy Efficiency Directive, Energy Taxation Directive, Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, EU Emissions Trading System – for power, industry, maritime & aviation, and Land Use, Forestry and Agriculture Regulation. 


  • 17 May 2021: The Commission proposes a Sustainable blue economy. The initiative seeks to make blue economy sectors (such as fisheries, aquaculture, coastal tourism, maritime transport, port activities and shipbuilding) reduce their environmental impact, promoting a sustainable use of seas’ resources to create, among others, alternatives to fossil fuels. 


  • 12 May 2021: The Commission adopts the Zero pollution Action Plan, which sets the target to reduce pollution by 2050 to levels that are no longer harmful to human health and natural ecosystems. 


  • 25 March 2021: The Commission launches the Organic Action Plan, putting forward an initiative for organic production in the EU, as to develop a sustainable food system for the EU. 


  • 24 February 2021: The European Commission adopts the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change aimed to make the EU response to the inevitable effects of climate change (from heatwaves and droughts to deforestation) smarter, swifter, and more systemic. 


  • 18 January 2021: The Commission launches the New European Bauhaus, a wide project with environmental, economic and cultural connotations combining design, sustainability, accessibility, affordability and investment. 


  • 10 December 2020: The Commission proposes to update the EU legislation on batteries. The goal is to make batteries more sustainable, high-performing and safe throughout their entire life cycle. 


  • 9 December 2020: The Commission launches the European Climate Pact. The initiative provides people, communities and organisationswith a space to share information, ideas and plan actions on the green transition. 


  • 19 November 2020: The Commission presents the EU Strategy on Offshore Renewable Energy, by which it proposes to increase Europe’s offshore wind capacity from its current level of 12 GW to at least 60 GW by 2030 and to 300 GW by 2050.  



  • 17 September 2020: The Commission presents the 2030 Climate Target, its plan to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, as part of the path to achieving climate neutrality by 2050. 


  • 08 July 2020: The EU strategies for energy system integration and hydrogen are adopted. They intend to enable a progressive decarbonization of the energy sector, by, among others, integrating the different energy carriers , such as electricity, heat, cold, gas, solid and liquid fuels. 


  • 20 May 2020: The Commission presents the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the Farm to fork strategy, respectively aimed to halt biodiversity loss and make the food system sustainable, with targets including a reduction by 50% of the use and risk of pesticides, and by at least 20% of the use of fertilizers. 


  • 11 March 2020: The European Commission adopts the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP), which lays down measures on sustainable resource use along the entire life cycle of products, to enable the transition towards a circular economy. 


  • 10 March 2020: The European Commission adopts the European Industrial Strategy. It contains a package of initiatives to lead Europe’s industrial transformation, ranging from the review of EU competition rules to the modernzsation and decarbonization of energy-intensive industries. 


  • 4 March 2020: The European Commission presents the proposal for a European Climate Law providing a legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The Climate Law is the legal translation of our political commitment and sets us irreversibly on the path to a more sustainable future. 


  • 14 January 2020: The European Green Deal Investment Plan and the Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) are presented. The first aims to mobilise at least €1 trillion of investments needed for the transition to a climate-neutral economy over the next ten years. On the other hand, the JTM is the key-tool to ensure that the green transition is carried out in the fairest way possible and leaving no one behind. To this end, it mobilises at least €100 billion over the period 2021-2027 in the regions most affected by the socio-economic impact of the transition. 


  • 11 December 2019: The European Commission presents the European Green Deal (EGD), a roadmap to make the EU the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050. To do so, the EGD covers several key-sectors, from transport, to energy, agriculture, buildings, and industries such as steel, textiles, and chemicals. The Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said:Our plan sets out how to cut emissions, restore the health of our natural environment, protect our wildlife, create new economic opportunities, and improve the quality of life of our citizens. 

Where does the EU Green Deal go from here?

The EU Green Deal is intended to reset EU society as a green society, providing it with a modern, sustainable, and competitive economy. But in order to translate “want” into reality, the above summary of plans and policies will have to be followed by effective and coherent actions. The actual implementation of these outlined proposals will give us the first peek into Europe’s tangible ability to keep faith to its bold climate-neutrality commitment. Watch this space as we continue to update this list with each new step on the road to net zero. 


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