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Inside the EU’s new directive granting consumers a ‘right to repair’ their products

Photo: Jakub Kostal/Dreamstime
Photo: Jakub Kostal/Dreamstime

The European parliament has reached a provisional agreement on the “right to repair” directive, which is aimed at making it easier for consumers to repair damaged or defective products.

The context: It’s often easier for consumers to dispose of and replace broken appliances — things like vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, coffee machines, refrigerators, and mobile phones — than it is to have them fixed, especially when legal guarantees have expired.

Towards a circular economy: The new directive creates incentives for consumers to prolong the life of broken products. Among other things, it obliges manufacturers of certain goods to repair damaged products for free, or at a “reasonable price”, and seeks to provide consumers with all the information they need on repair services.

The directive complements other new laws, such as the ecodesign regulation, which promotes the production of repairable products.

“With the agreement reached today, Europe makes a clear choice for repair instead of disposal,” Alexia Bertrand, Belgian state secretary for the budget and consumer protection, said in a statement.

“By facilitating the repair of defective goods, we not only give a new life to our products, but also create good quality jobs, reduce our waste, limit our dependency on foreign raw materials and protect our environment.”

The directive is expected to create a thriving repair industry, and seeks to establish a Europe-wide online platform to facilitate connections between consumers and repairers.

Manufacturers will need to provide information on spare parts on their websites, and make those parts available to repair shops.

Yes, but: The deal still needs to be formally adopted.

And while it encourages repairs, it allows consumers to replace damaged products if they want to. If a consumer does opt for the repair route, the seller’s liability period will be extended by 12 months.

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