EU countries will have to start producing schemes to boost product repair rates while European customers will enjoy new rights to have common household appliances repaired under a new European law adopted last week.
Proposed by the European Commission in 2023, the new law extends consumer rights to have appliances and devices – including mobile phones – repaired long past the expiration of their product’s warranty.
The law will be a key pillar in the transition to a circular economy in which product life is increased through repair rather than simply throwing broken appliances away. The law will make it easier and cheaper to repair products instead of buying new ones.
“With the agreement reached today, Europe makes a clear choice for repair instead of disposal,” said Alexia Bertrand, the Belgian consumer protection state secretary and leader of the negotiations on behalf of EU countries.
European Parliament’s lead negotiator, the German centre-left politician, René Repasi, said: “This marks a significant success for the European Parliament, which has been vehemently in favour of empowering cosnumers in the fight against climate change.”
The European Commission said its original proposal would save some 18 million tonnes of CO2 over 15 years – while saving conusmers around $176 billion. A mandate for ‘reasonable’ repair fees put forward by Repasi and his co-negotiators will be included in the final text.
According to Euroactiv, the new law will establish an ‘obligation for the manufacturer to repair common household products like washin machines, vacuum cleaners, and even smartphones.’ It is anticipated that this list of products will be extended through a secondary law known as the Ecodesign regulation.
Currently, products that are repaired already have their legal warranty extended by two years in certain European member states, including Germany. This ‘refreshes’ a seller’s liability for flawed goods. The new agreement will further this extension by another year.
The new law also comes with the obligation on the seller’s part to inform their customers of the right to repair, the ability to borrow a substitute during repair or immediately opt for a refurbished replacement, and the provision of online access to indicative repair prices.
Consumers will, of course, remain free to opt for either repair or buy a new device and while the European Parliament had initially sought to make reparations obligatory in specific cases, this approach was revised.
EU countries will have 24 months to adopt the new directive into national law once it has been adopted by the Council and Parliament and published in the EU Official Journal