A slim majority (54%) of the 25,000 respondents to the Eurobarometer report, released on Friday (5 July), say they "sometimes" buy environmentally-friendly products.
About half of Europeans would be willing to change their purchasing habits for environmental reasons but feel they lack information and distrust manufacturers’ green claims.
With environmentally-friendly products being generally more expensive, the issue remains over how to get consumers to go green.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik believes better labelling could help.
"Of course we all want to see more green products on shelves, but this survey shows that most of us are confused by green claims and don't trust them,” he said. “That's not good for consumers, and it is not rewarding those companies that are really making an effort.”
The European Commission’s environment directorate is developing a method of assessing a product’s environmental footprint based on a lifecycle assessment.
Adrian Harris, the head of Orgalime, the European engineering industry association, told EurActiv that the EU’s current Ecodesign label was sufficient and that new approaches could increase costs and complexity for consumers, with questionable benefits.
“We don’t want to introduce a wishy-washy concept, which is not useful for our industry, when we have a methodology which is defined, which has been tried and tested,” he said.
Three-quarters of respondents (77%) to the Eurostat report - carried out across social and demographic groups in all 28 EU countries - say that they would be willing to pay more for environmentally-friendly products if they were confident that the products were truly green.