77% of EU citizens would rather fix a device than buy a new one
Consumers must be able to choose longer lasting, repairable products
Defining obsolescence as unfair commercial practice
A legislative proposal on a right to repair a key EU initiative for 2022
A new “right to repair” must cover designing long-lasting products that can be fixed, as well as more informative labelling and extended guarantee rights.
Parliament adopted on Thursday its demands for an upcoming European Commission proposal on the right to repair planned for later in 2022, with 509 votes in favour, 3 against and 13 abstentions.
MEPs agreed that an effective right to repair should address a product’s lifecycle and take into account product design, ethical production, standardisation and consumer information including labelling on reparability and public procurement. It should foster a more efficient use of resources, reduce waste and encourage an extended use of products.
Durable products that can be repaired
MEPs want products to be designed to last longer, to be safely repaired and their parts easily removed. They believe that a proper “right to repair” should give repairers and consumers access to repair and maintenance information, free of charge.
Concerning digital devices, MEPs argue that software updates should be reversible and not lead to diminished performance of, for example, smartphones. They should be made available for a minimum period of time, and consumers should be fully informed at the time of purchase on the availability of updates.
Practices which unduly constrain the right to repair or lead to obsolescence could be considered as “unfair commercial practices” and banned under EU law.
What should a future “right to repair” law include?
MEPs also demand:
- incentives for consumers to choose repair over replacement, like extended guarantees or receiving a replacement device for the duration of a repair;
- harmonised rules for consumer information at the point of sale, including “repair scores”, estimated lifespan, spare parts, repair services, and the availability of software updates;
- possible smart labelling such as QR codes or digital product passports;
- possible joint manufacturer-seller liability mechanism for non-conformity of products;
- durability and repair requirements included in a future Ecodesign Directive.
Parliament has been in favour of improving consumers’ right to repair for over a decade, and adopted two resolutions that contain a number of concrete proposals to make repairs systematic, cost-efficient and attractive. It sees the right to repair as a key step in achieving the Circular Economy plans in the framework of the European Green Deal. The Commission announced it would table a proposal amending the Sale of Goods Directive and that it is considering a separate legislative proposal on the right to repair, in the third quarter of 2022.
According to a Eurobarometer survey, 79% of EU citizens think manufacturers should be required to make it easier to repair digital devices or replace their individual parts, and 77% would rather repair their devices than buy new ones. Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world, with more than 53 million tons discarded in 2019.