European Right to Repair resolution headed for vote

Motion calls for repairability ratings and expected lifetime of products

European lawmakers are voting in plenary on a Right to Repair resolution today amid calls for the initiative to go even further.

The draft motion for resolution [PDF] cited a survey that found 79 percent of EU citizens thought that manufacturers should make repairs easier, with 77 percent saying a repair would be preferable to replacement, and called for access to parts, repair information, and standardization among devices.

To that end, the motion emphasizes labels to indicate repairability and expected lifetime for products, access to parts and repair facilities, an extension to liability for defective goods beyond two years, and calls on the European Commission to "always take into account the highest possible level of consumer protection and consumer welfare."

The European Commission is no stranger to the "Right to Repair" movement, having kicked off reforms in 2020 aimed at getting manufacturers to improve their designs with a view to improving longevity and recycling. Apple was required to publish repairability scores for its products in France last year following the introduction of regulations requiring a repairability index on washing machines, smartphones, laptops, televisions, and electric lawnmowers.

The motion being voted on today appears to be a step right direction. In addition to access to spares and repairs, there is a call for the legal products guarantees to be extended.

"We believe," said Marcel Kolaja, Member and Quaestor of the European Parliament and member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, "that longer guarantee periods will provide an incentive to choose repair over replace."

"Manufacturers cannot force consumers to buy new products every other year," Kolaja went on. "That is certainly not the right way towards sustainability. Therefore, I am really glad to see that the Parliament calls for strengthening consumers' rights in today's resolution."

Patrick Breyer, Member of the European Parliament and German Pirate Party, agreed there was an opportunity to take things further: "While commercial manufacturers of IT devices must provide updates for a reasonable period of time according to current laws, there is so far no obligation to patch known vulnerabilities in a timely manner.

"There is also a lack of manufacturer liability for the often devastating consequences of such vulnerabilities. This must be changed. The source code and development tools should have to be made public to allow the community to maintain it as soon as a manufacturer decides to abandon a product that is still in widespread use."

The Right to Repair legislation continues to grind its way through the European Commission. Amendments to the Sale of Goods Directive aimed at making repair easier is expected by the end of 2022. Other requirements around the design of devices and batteries are also expected this year [PDF]. ®

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