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Voluntary eco-labels in international trade law: a case study of the EU eco-label

Du, M. (2021) 'Voluntary eco-labels in international trade law: a case study of the EU eco-label.', Journal of environmental law., 33 (1). pp. 167-193.


One category of voluntary approaches to environmental governance is ecolabels used to nudge consumers towards purchasing environmentally friendly products. The purpose of this article is to critically review the trade law implications of voluntary ecolabels, with special reference to the EU Ecolabel. For a long time, the lack of trade disputes related to the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) before the World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement Body rendered research on the legality of voluntary ecolabels in trade law unavoidably speculative. Consequently, the existing scholarship has failed to inform the environment law community clearly how trade law views voluntary ecolabels. This article aims to fill the gap in the literature by evaluating the consistency of the EU Ecolabel with the TBT rules. The article concludes that it is highly unlikely that the EU Ecolabel may be found inconsistent with the TBT Agreement. Nevertheless, there remains some legal risks.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 13 October 2022.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of environmental law following peer review. The version of record Ming Du, Voluntary Ecolabels in International Trade Law: A Case Study of the EU Ecolabel, Journal of Environmental Law, Volume 33, Issue 1, March 2021, Pages 167–193 is available online at:
Date accepted:23 September 2020
Date deposited:27 September 2020
Date of first online publication:13 October 2021
Date first made open access:13 October 2022

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