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Advancements in the EU's "Right to Repair" Directive: A Breakdown

On November 21, 2023, the European Parliament marked a crucial milestone by adopting its position on the proposed “Right to Repair" Directive. This article provides an overview of the key developments and implications of the adopted directive.

Tamara Ciochina

In November 2023, the European Parliament took an important step by adopting a new directive called the "Right to Repair." This directive aims to change how consumers make choices, reduce harm to the environment, and encourage sustainable product consumption. Here are the highlights of this directive:

1. Overwhelming Support: The European Parliament gave strong support to the "Right to Repair" directive, with 590 members voting in favor, only 15 against, and 15 abstentions. The directive was first proposed by the European Commission in March of the same year and focuses on making manufacturers ensure that their products can be repaired for a certain period of time, promoting reuse and sustainability.

2. Extended Warranty: One important aspect of the directive is the extension of the legal warranty period by at least two years. During this time, consumers can ask the seller to repair or replace faulty goods free of charge. The directive encourages repair over replacement during this period, promoting more sustainable practices.

3. More Products Eligible for Repair: The directive expands the list of products that can be repaired. This includes items like bicycles, washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, smartphones, tablets, fridges, and more. The Parliament's proposal aims to repair more products, even after the legal warranty period has ended, rather than throwing them away.

4. Incentives for Repair and Accessibility: To make repairs a more appealing option, the Parliament suggests that manufacturers offer replacement devices to consumers while their product is being repaired. Additionally, manufacturers are required to offer repairs once a product's warranty has expired. Independent repairers, refurbishers, and end-users are also given access to spare parts, repair information, and tools at a reasonable cost to address issues of accessibility and high repair costs.

5. Preventing Obstacles to Repair: The Parliament is advocating for a ban on techniques that make it difficult to repair a product, such as certain contractual, hardware, or software restrictions. This directive ensures that consumers have the right to choose repair services not only from the seller but also from the manufacturer. Manufacturers are not allowed to refuse to fix products that have been previously repaired by someone outside their authorized network.

However, there are still challenges ahead before this directive becomes law. Consensus with the Council of the European Union is necessary. Negotiations between the Parliament, the Council, and the European Commission have already begun, and contentious points include the inclusion of bicycles and the right for consumers to choose replacement in cases where repairs are impossible.