Eco Innovation

EU strikes a landmark deal to promote the right to repair

5th February 2024
Paige West

In a significant advancement for consumer rights and environmental sustainability, European Union negotiators have reached a provisional agreement on a bill designed to minimise waste and stimulate the repair sector.

The legislation extends consumer rights beyond the standard legal warranty, making the repair of products not only more accessible but also a more appealing option. The measures agreed upon include:

  • Mandating manufacturers to repair common household items such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and smartphones, with provisions to expand this list over time
  • Informing consumers about their entitlement to repairs from manufacturers
  • Offering consumers alternatives during repair periods, such as loan devices or refurbished units
  • Providing free online access to indicative repair costs
  • Extending the legal guarantee by an additional year for products that have been repaired

The European Parliament has been instrumental in fortifying the EU's repair market, making it more competitive. The agreement compels manufacturers to make spare parts and tools accessible at reasonable prices and prohibits the use of contractual clauses or technical barriers that prevent repairs. This includes restrictions against the use of second-hand or 3D-printed spare parts by independent repair services.

To simplify the repair process, the establishment of a European online platform with national subsections has been agreed upon. This initiative will enable consumers throughout the EU to easily locate local repair shops, vendors of refurbished goods, purchasers of defective items, or engage with community-led repair initiatives like repair cafés.

A key priority for the Parliament has been to enhance the affordability of repairs for consumers. As part of the agreement, each member state is tasked with implementing at least one measure to encourage repairs. These measures could include repair vouchers, information campaigns, repair courses, support for community repair projects, or a reduction in VAT rates for repair services.

Rapporteur René Repasi (S&D, DE) said: “With today's agreement, we have come closer to establishing a consumer right to repair. In the future, it will be easier and cheaper to have products repaired instead of buying new, expensive ones. This marks a significant success for the European Parliament, which has been vehemently in favour of empowering consumers in the fight against climate change. The agreement introduces an extra 12 months of legal guarantee for products and ensures independent repairers have improved access to spare parts. Furthermore, it prohibits manufacturers from using contractual clauses, software and hardware techniques that hinder repair”.

The directive awaits adoption by both the Council and Parliament and its subsequent publication in the EU Official Journal. Following this, member states will have 24 months to transpose the directive into national legislation.

This agreement on the right to repair signifies a critical step in the EU's commitment to prolonging the lifespan of products, reducing waste, and fostering a more sustainable and circular economy. It aligns with other recent EU initiatives on Ecodesign and empowering consumers for the green transition, further cementing the EU's leadership in environmental sustainability and consumer rights.

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