EU rules compel manufacturers to make repair easier

mobile phone repair

The European Parliament voted on 23 April to adopt new rules on the so-called “right to repair” for consumers, which aim to make it easier and more cost-effective to repair goods.

The new rules ensure that manufacturers provide timely and cost-effective repair services and inform consumers about their rights to repair. Goods repaired under the warranty will benefit from an additional one-year extension of the legal guarantee, further incentivising consumers to choose repair instead of replacement.

After the legal guarantee has expired, the manufacturer is still required to repair common household products, which are technically repairable under EU law, such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and even smartphones. The list of product categories can be extended over time. Consumers may also borrow a device whilst theirs is being repaired or, if it cannot be fixed, opt for a refurbished unit as an alternative.

A European information form can be offered to consumers to help them assess and compare repair services (detailing the nature of the defect, price and duration of the repair). To make the repair process easier, a European online platform with national sections will be set up to help consumers easily find local repair shops, sellers of refurbished goods, buyers of defective items or community-led repair initiatives, such as repair cafes.

Revitalising the repair market
The rules aim to strengthen the EU repair market and reduce repair costs for consumers. Manufacturers will have to provide spare parts and tools at a reasonable price and will be prohibited from using contractual clauses, hardware or software techniques that obstruct repairs. In particular, they cannot impede the use of second-hand or 3D-printed spare parts by independent repairers, nor can they refuse to repair a product solely for economic reasons or because it was previously repaired by someone else.

To make repairs more affordable, each member state will have to implement at least one measure to promote repair, such as repair vouchers and funds, conducting information campaigns, offering repair courses or supporting for community-led repair spaces.

Rapporteur René Repasi (S&D, DE) said: “Consumers’ right to repair products will now become a reality. It will be easier and cheaper to repair instead of purchase new, expensive items. This is a significant achievement for Parliament and its commitment to empower consumers in the fight against climate change. The new legislation extends legal guarantees by 12 months when opting for repair, gives better access to spare parts and ensures easier, cheaper and faster repair.”

Once the directive is formally approved by Council and published in the EU Official Journal, member states will have 24 months to transpose it into national law.

According to the European Commission, the premature disposal of consumer goods produces 261 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions, consumes 30 million tonnes of resources, and generates 35 million tonnes of waste in the EU each year. Consumers also lose about €12 billion yearly by replacing goods rather than repairing them.

The new rules are expected to bring €4.8 billion in growth and investment within the EU. The directive complements other new EU rules on Ecodesign and on Empowering consumers for the green transition.