EU's Right to Repair gets revised with new rules and more restrictions

EU's Right to Repair gets revised with new rules and more restrictions


24 April 2024

The European Commission has approved 'right to repair' legislation, making it easier for consumers to mend defective devices, even if they are out of warranty. The EU currently compels corporations to provide a two-year minimum guarantee on basic household appliances and electronics including smartphones, TVs, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners, but the new rules add more restrictions.

According to the legislation, if a consumer decides to have their item fixed under warranty, the guarantee period must be extended by one year. Consumers can also borrow a device while theirs is being repaired, and if it cannot be repaired, they can choose a refurbished unit instead.

When a product's warranty expires, corporations are still required to repair equipment at a "reasonable price," so that users are not discouraged from doing so. Manufacturers will also be forbidden from utilizing "hardware or software-related barriers to repair," such as barring independent repairers from using second-hand, compatible, and 3D-printed spare parts as long as they comply with EU regulations.

Furthermore, producers will be unable to refuse to repair a product simply for economic reasons or because it has already been repaired by someone else. Companies will be forced to disclose information about their repair services, including estimated rates for the most typical repairs.

Consumers' right to repair products will now become a reality," said EC rapporteur René Repasi. "It will be easier and cheaper to repair instead of purchase new, expensive items. This is a significant achievement for Parliament and its commitment to empower consumers in the fight against climate change. The new legislation extends legal guarantees by 12 months when opting for repair, gives better access to spare parts and ensures easier, cheaper and faster repair.

The legislation will go into effect following formal approval by the Council, with the directive taking effect 20 days after publication.

The Right to Repair group in Europe applauded the legislation as a "step in the right direction," but noted that the spectrum of products covered is limited and could lead to loopholes. The coalition pointed out that the laws only apply to consumer products, not corporate or industrial goods. It also criticized the lack of clarity on what constitutes a "reasonable price" for spare components.

The legislation may have an impact on Apple, particularly the controversial "parts pairing" rule, which prohibits third-party replacements of specific device components. Currently, if an unofficial third party replaces an iPhone part with a like-for-like replacement, the iPhone's system software may fail to identify it. The phrasing of the new EU guidelines suggests that this will no longer be permitted.

Meanwhile, in the United States, more than a dozen states are drafting unique right-to-repair laws.California's Right to Repair Act will require manufacturers to provide repair supplies for devices and appliances costing $50 or more, effective July.

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