Members' Research Service By / February 10, 2022

Right to repair [Policy Podcast]

The introduction of an effective ‘right to repair’ for consumers has been announced in several of the European Commission’s strategic documents: the European Green Deal, the new circular economy action plan and the new consumer agenda.

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Written by Nikolina Šajn.

The European Commission has announced the establishment of a ‘right to repair’, with a view of saving costs for consumers and facilitating the development of a circular economy. The right to repair may refer to different issues and situations: repair during the legal guarantee, the right to repair after the legal guarantee has expired, and the right for consumers to repair products themselves.

Rates of repair depend on the type of a product, with the cost of repair being the most important reason consumers avoid repair. Research shows that consumers favour products that are easily repaired, but their willingness to pay for such products depends on the type of product and the way information on the reparability is presented to them.

Currently, EU contract laws give consumers a right to have faulty products repaired during the legal guarantee, while the new generation of ecodesign rules require the availability of spare parts for a certain time, at least for some products. Repair-related requirements are also present in the rules on the EU Ecolabel. The Commission is now planning a number of initiatives to improve reparability of products, including legislation on the right to repair, on empowering consumers for the green transition, a sustainable products initiative, design requirements for electronics, and measures making the broader economic context more favourable to repair.

The European Parliament has been in favour of improving consumers’ right to repair for over a decade, and has in this parliamentary term adopted two resolutions that contain a number of concrete proposals to make repairs systematic, cost-efficient and attractive. Consumer organisations and associations advocating for easier repair have called for rules to facilitate repair for non-professionals, and to guarantee consumers access to spare parts and repair manuals. Business organisations favour professional repairs, and have warned that any information requirements should not infringe on companies’ intellectual property.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Right to repair‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Listen to policy podcast ‘Right to repair‘ on YouTube.

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