Brussels hopes that the move will nudge the automobile industry towards meeting the Union's goal of limiting CO2 emissions from new cars to an average of 130 grams/km by 2015, around one fifth below 2007 levels.
New green technologies could count for up to 7g CO2/km of that target.
An 'eco-innovation' is defined as any technology that is new to the market, contributes to "significant CO2 savings", and has not already been taken into account in determining a vehicle's emissions.
Listed technologies include improved vehicle propulsion, or enhanced energy consumption of mandatory devices.
Solar panels that convert sunlight into electric energy could potentially qualify, but an energy-efficient in-car music system would not.
The new regulations will be gradually phased in from 2012 when 65% of each manufacturer's newly registered cars must comply, rising to 75% in 2013, 80% in 2014 and 100% by 2015.
From 2012, car manufacturers whose fleet average exceeds the limit will be penalised for each car registered.
Detailed technical guidelines on how to prepare applications for the eco-innovation recognition process will follow in due course.
But for now, the European Commission will assess applications from car manufacturers and components suppliers to decide which generic eco-innovations to improve.
Actual CO2 savings will be certified as part of the vehicle-type approval procedure.