The European Parliament adopted a proposal on Tuesday with a strong focus on the “right to repair” for consumers. The proposal received 590 votes in favour, 15 against, and 15 abstentions. This proposal aims to promote sustainable consumption by simplifying the process of repairing faulty goods, which would result in reduced waste and support for the repair sector.
Throwing repairable consumer goods away has a profound environmental impact, resulting in the use of 30 million tonnes of resources, the production of 261 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions and the generation of 35 million tonnes of waste annually in the EU. Consumers opting to replace a good instead of repairing it lose approximately €12 billion every year. According to a European Commission study, 77% EU citizens would prefer repair to buying new goods.
Choose repair instead of buying.
When the legal guarantee no longer covers your product, you can still choose repair over buying a new one. The law requires sellers to prioritise repair over replacement if it is less expensive or costs the same unless the repair is not possible or inconvenient for you. Additionally, lawmakers propose to extend the legal guarantee by one year after the product has been repaired.
You now have the right to request repair for products such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners, smartphones, and bicycles, even after the guarantee has expired. To make repairs more appealing to consumers, manufacturers should provide a loaner device for the duration of the repair, and if they cannot fix it, they could offer a refurbished one.
Towards a more competitive repair market
Consumers often avoid repairing their products due to high costs, difficulty accessing repair services, or design features that prevent repairs. The European Parliament’s position aims to provide independent repairers, refurbishers, and end-users with access to all spare parts, repair information, and tools at a reasonable cost.
Online platforms will help consumers find local repairers, including repair cafés and sellers of refurbished goods in their area. MEPs propose offering consumers vouchers and other financial incentives through national repair funds to make repairs more affordable and attractive.
“This House has consistently supported consumers’ right to repair and we can finally say that we are directly responding to people’s demands. People want to expand the lifespan of their devices, but it is often too costly or difficult. We adopted a series of measures to encourage consumers to choose repair over replacement, with a special focus on supporting independent repairers and establishing financial incentives. We expect Council to adopt their position soon, so we can begin negotiations to transform these measures into law and pave the way for a truly circular European economy,” said rapporteur René Repasi (S&D, DE).
Once Council adopts its own negotiating position on 22 November, talks with Parliament may begin, with a first meeting scheduled on 7 December.