Friday

5th Mar 2021

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.

Digital gap: 42% of EU citizens lack basic digital skills

While nine-out-of-10 future jobs will require digital skills, a new report revealed that a large part of EU citizens were unable to perform basic tasks such as connect to the wi-fi network or use websites.

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.

Commission: Pioneering Nordics' energy mix 'example' to EU

The Nordic electricity market is an example of successful market integration plus climate action, as the share of sustainable energy keeps growing, the European Commission said. However, the decarbonisation of the transport sector remains a challenge.

Investigation

How Energy Treaty 'shadow' courts prolong EU's fossil age

The treaty enables companies to claim billions in compensation from states in front of international arbitration tribunals, if they feel unfairly treated by the states' energy or climate policies.

EU faces long wait for full vaccine supplies

The EU is still several months away from having enough vaccines to inoculate its 450 million people, with Pfizer and BioNTech, its principle suppliers, aiming for September for delivery targets.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. China and Russia abusing corona for geopolitics, Lithuania says
  2. Worries on Europe's infection surge, after six-week drop
  3. EU wants large firms to report on gender pay-gap or face fines
  4. EU Commission cannot hold Frontex to account
  5. Orbán leaves EPP group - the beginning of a long endgame
  6. 'Corporate due diligence'? - a reality check before EP votes
  7. Austrian ex-minister joins list of EU's pro-Kremlin lobbyists
  8. Internal Frontex probe to deliver final report this week

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us