Unlocking consumer freedom: EU Parliament votes yes to right to repair

The European Parliament showed resounding support for consumers’ right to repair during today’s pivotal vote on the “Common rules promoting the repair of goods” [1].

In a near unanimous vote, policymakers voted yes to the report from the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO), which is a commendable improvement on the initial proposal by the European Commission. The approved text addresses exorbitant costs of repair through transparent pricing of spare parts, fosters an open repair ecosystem, and tackles unjust anti-repair practices from manufacturers.

Cheaper and easier repair

In a huge win for consumers’ right to repair, the Parliament approved a solid ban on contractual, hardware or software techniques obstructing repair. Lawmakers also approved obligations on fair pricing and accessibility of spare parts. However, this is applicable only to ten product categories [2].

Nevertheless, both factors are great enablers for self-repair and independent repair, which has so far struggled to be a viable option since producers control spare parts pricing and supply. If put in place, producers will be required to provide parts at non-discriminatory price for the entirety of a product’s expected lifespan. Moreover, they will have to make repair information and tools available for all stakeholders, including independent repairers, remanufacturers, refurbishers and end-users.

Repair before replace

For the first time, producers will also be obliged to offer repair as an option even outside of the warranty period. Besides, the new legal guarantee framework stipulates that sellers and manufacturers must prioritise repair as a remedy over replacement- although this won’t apply if sellers claim that repair would be more expensive than replacement.

Problematic products not included

While welcoming today’s vote as a significant forward stride, the Right to Repair and Coolproducts coalitions regret that the provisions enabling a more transparent and affordable access to spare parts and curtailing anti-repair practices only cover a limited number of products. The consumer protection still does not extend to more problematic and irreparable-by-design products such as many electronics and ICT products, toys, and small household appliances.

The agreed text has to now survive interinstitutional negotiations where the Member States’ positions can still water it down. The pressure is on national governments to match the Parliament’s ambition and finally deliver a real right to repair before the end of the current mandate and the next EU elections in spring 2024. 

Cristina Ganapini, Coordinator of the Right to Repair Europe coalition, said: 

“We celebrate the EU Parliament for protecting EU consumers from unfair manufacturers’ techniques which limit repair for a wide range of products. These practices deliberately undermine the viability and/or affordability of repair without adding to users’ experience or security. We encourage co-legislators to keep up this level of ambition, going beyond existing ecodesign rules and empowering consumers to choose repair.”

Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, Policy Manager for Circular Economy at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) said:

“It is high time that the EU took this step in the right direction to tackle manufacturers’ tactics to force consumers into a cycle of buying replacements for minor issues, perpetuating a systemic wastage of resources. However, restricting this to only a handful of products is a major missed opportunity to revolutionise sustainable products and expand consumer and repair rights in Europe.”

​​Thomas Opsomer, Repair Policy Engineer at iFixit, said:

“Today’s vote brings us a step closer to an open repair ecosystem. Manufacturers are no longer allowed to use parts pairing or other sneaky tricks to keep independent repairers and self-repairers alike from using the spare parts of their choice, be it second-hand parts, aftermarket parts or even 3D printed ones. This is an important milestone – making it all the more regrettable that key provisions in this supposedly all-encompassing legislation only cover a handful of products in the end.”

 

Notes to editors

[1] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20231117IPR12211/new-eu-rules-encouraging-consumers-to-repair-devices-over-replacing-them

[2] The ten categories consist of bicycles and nine other product groups currently covered by ecodesign requirements: smartphones and tablets, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, fridges, displays, welding equipment, vacuum cleaners and servers. 

About Right to Repair Europe Coalition:

The Right to Repair campaign is a coalition of European organisations pushing for system change around repair. It consists of over 100 members in 20+ countries, including NGOs, repair businesses, repair networks, and repairers themselves. 

About the Coolproducts campaign

Co-led by European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS), Coolproducts is a coalition of NGOs working to ensure better products for consumers and the planet. www.coolproducts.eu

Unlocking consumer freedom: EU Parliament votes yes to right to repair
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