The EU Emissions Trading Directive is expected by European energy-intensive industries to harm their competitiveness vis-à-vis non-European competitors. Many additional measures have thus been proposed to 'level the playing field' and to protect the competitiveness of European energy-intensive industries within the larger effort of reducing Europe's greenhouse gas emissions and of meeting its obligations under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. This article evaluates a range of proposed measures based on a set of political and legal criteria, including environmental effectiveness; the need to consider differentiated commitments, responsibilities and capabilities; conformity with world trade law and European Union law; and Europe's overall political interests. We discuss measures that could be adopted by the European Union and its member states, such as direct support for energy-intensive industries, restrictions of energy-intensive imports into the European Union through border cost adjustments, quotas or technical regulations, and cost reimbursement for affected developing countries. We also analyse measures available to multilateral institutions such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol and the World Trade Organisation. We conclude with a classification of the discussed measures with red (unfeasible), yellow (potentially feasible) or green (feasible) labels. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.