Tuesday

1st Dec 2020

MEPs push for limited 'right-to-repair' on consumer devices

  • The 'right-to-repair' could be one of the new flagship policies where the EU advances consumer rights (Photo: Ian Sane)

Annoyed at the short lifespan of modern digital devices, or the inability to fix a seemingly small problem on a laptop and instead having to buy a new one?

The 'right-to-repair' has been making its way through different EU channels and on Monday (26 October) MEPs supported a report that called on the EU Commission to grant such an innovative right to consumers.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The goal of right-to-repair rules is to get companies to make parts, tools and information available to consumers and shops in order to keep devices from being thrown away too quickly, advocates say.

They also argue that firms often design products to be short-lived, so-called "planned obsolescence", to encourage people to make repeat purchases - which increases energy use and climate-damaging emissions.

Manufacturers, on the other hand, either say that their products are repairable, or cite privacy and security issues when they do restrict repairs.

The MEPs's report, passed in the internal committee, asked the commission to "consider" labelling products and services according to their durability and estimated lifespan. And MEPs again called for a common charger system.

MEPs also said practices that intentionally shorten the lifetime of a product should also be examined - but did not call for action on the issue of "planned obsolescence".

The lawmakers said that software updates for certain digital devices must continue throughout their estimated lifespan, and should not diminish their performance.

The right-to-repair could be one of the new flagship policies where the EU advances consumer rights, such as roaming.

Some 77 percent of Europeans would rather repair their devices than replace them, and 79 percent think manufacturers should be required to make it easier to repair digital devices or replace their parts, according to two Eurobarometer reports.

But campaigners criticised the MEPs report, which was softened after compromise amendments backed by the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), and the liberal Renew group.

Voluntary, not mandatory

The Right to Repair European campaign said in a statement it was "disappointed" with the results.

"By adopting amendments that limit the mandatory labelling of products in favour of voluntary schemes, weaken provisions on premature obsolescence and suppress the reference to mandatory sustainability criteria and targets for public procurement, the European Parliament plays is putting citizens' demands on mute," the coalition of European repair organisations said, adding that the parliament caved into big tech and the industry when not setting ambitious goals.

The parliament's plenary will vote on the report in November, and advocates are hoping for a turn-around by then. They say the parliament, untypically, lags behind the most progressive member states.

France, for instance, will introduce mandatory repair labelling starting next year on smartphones, televisions, computers, washing machines and lawn mowers, based on a set of criteria including availability of spare parts and access to repair information.

In a separate EU track, the commission announced plans in March for new right-to-repair rules that would cover phone, tablets and laptops.

Investigation

How Apple lobbied EU to delay common smartphone charger

iPhones and Android products don't use the same charger. This is annoying for consumers and harmful for the environment. Old chargers produce more than 51,000 tons of electronic waste per year.

Analysis

First 100 days: Digital and Green Deal policies hit by crises

The first 100 days of Ursula von der Leyen's commission were supposed to be about the digital and environmental transitions. However, that agenda has been hit by first the coronavirus, and now the Greek border situation.

MEPs urge binding rules for common chargers by July

MEPs demanded the European Commission ensure immediate EU regulatory action on common chargers for all mobile devices by July, enabling users to easily re-use old devices and reducing e-waste.

EU welcomes Japan's 2050 climate-neutrality pledge

EU leaders welcomed new Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga's pledge to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050 - a move that puts Tokyo's plans on the same timeline as Europe and a decade ahead of China.

Ministers back EU-wide 2050 climate goal, not by country

EU environment ministers reached on Friday a partial agreement on the bloc's climate law, pending a decision by EU leaders on the updated 2030 target. While none of the 27 EU countries rejected the bill, Bulgaria decided to abstain.

News in Brief

  1. EU medical agency to decide on Pfizer and Moderna vaccines
  2. Euro-bailout fund to also help banks
  3. Trade unions urge date for pay transparency directive
  4. 33 governments must answer youth climate lawsuit
  5. US slams Hungarian article for Soros/Hitler comparison
  6. Sturgeon doesn't rule out 2021 Scottish independence vote
  7. Hungary's Orban and Poland's Morawiecki meet again
  8. Gran Canaria migrant camp dismantled

Livestream

Live: Join the Nordic climate debate 'Choosing Green'

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has stalled climate negotiations, work has not stopped. The 'Choosing Green' debate will address some of the most important and most complex key areas relating to the global green transition. Live on EUobserver from 10:00 (CET).

Green Deal

Timmermans 'disappointed' with ongoing CAP reform

For European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, the Common Agricultural Policy has to answer to "higher expectations" on climate action, protection of biodiversity and environmental sustainability, while ensuring a fair income for all farmers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  2. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  4. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector

Latest News

  1. China and Russia encircling divided Western allies
  2. Fish complicates last push for post-Brexit deal
  3. EU emissions down 24% on 1990 - but still off 2030 target
  4. Hungary must keep Russian vaccine within borders, says EU
  5. If EU is serious, it should use more US liquified gas, not less
  6. EU taxpayers in the dark on US corona-drug deal
  7. EU debates first names to go on human rights blacklist
  8. Lithuania bids to host EU cyber-centre

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us