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EU directive legislates ‘timely, cost-effective’ repairs

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International | Legal
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New rules established in the European Union aim to “reinforce the right to repair, aim to reduce waste, and bolster the repair sector by making it easier and more cost-effective to repair goods,” according to the European Parliament.

Under the directive, manufacturers are required to provide timely and cost-effective repairs and inform consumers about their repair rights. While the new directive doesn’t specifically apply to vehicles, it does apply to electronic displays, welding equipment, and data storage products. Parliament says the list of product categories could be extended over time.

The “right to repair” directive was passed 584-3 with 14 abstentions. The rules aim to strengthen the EU repair market and reduce repair costs for consumers, Parliament said.

Goods repaired under the warranty will be covered by an additional year extension to incentivize consumers to choose repair instead of replacement, Parliament said. After the legal guarantee has expired, the manufacturer is still required to repair common household products.

“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,” a Parliament news release states. “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 community-led repair spaces.”

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

“Consumers’ right to repair products will now become a reality,” said Rapporteur René Repasi, in the release. “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.”

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 ($12.9 billion) yearly by replacing goods rather than repairing them.

A federal “right to repair” effort in the U.S. hasn’t progressed since November. Supporters of the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair Act (REPAIR Act) say it would ensure access to tools and equipment, wireless repair and diagnostic data, and on-board diagnostic and telematics systems that they claim are necessary to repair a vehicle. However, most, if not all of that, is provided by automakers, perhaps not for free, but still accessible.

At the state level, efforts have been underway to legislate “right to repair” in Maine.

In April, the Maine House of Representatives passed an alternative bill 79-65 to legislation introduced with a November 2023 ballot question approved by voter referendum.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation (Auto Innovators) drafted LD 1911 shortly after LD 1677 as a competing bill. LD 1677 was passed in November when more than 84% of voters approved a right to repair (R2R) referendum that began as a petition circulated by the Maine Right to Repair Coalition.

An amended majority version of LD 1911 would’ve replaced LD 1677, currently state law, if the Senate had passed it. Shortly after the House vote, the Senate indefinitely postponed the bill.

“There has been a lot of discussion both in this building and in the world in general about our data, about access to it, use of it, and ways to obtain it,” said Rep. Tiffany Roberts (D-District 149) before the House vote. “This is what the decision before us tonight is truly centered on. It is essential to understand how that data will be used by interested parties to ensure consumers have a legal right to access their data and limit the number of people to whom data is exposed or distributed.”


Featured image: Mlenny/iStock

More information

EU mandates fair data access, use & third-party sharing


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