The European Parliament has voted in favour of pursuing an EU-wide right-to-repair law. (Photo by Laia Ros/Getty Images)


European Parliament votes for right-to-repair


The European Parliament says it wants a pan-European Union right-to-repair law.

MEPs agreed to push other EU institutions to grant consumers further rights in coming inter-institutional ‘trilogue’ negotiations. Politicians are keen that citizens have the right to get their goods repaired rather than be forced into making new purchases.

Under the agreed framework, manufacturers of smartphones, washing machines, bicycles and other such goods should be required to prioritise repairing faulty goods sent to them rather than simply replacing them within a certain agreed period.

Parliamentarians are also looking to force manufacturers to offer repair services for their products even outside their allotted must-repair time. MEPs are asking for companies to provide loan devices to consumers while their product is being fixed.

The European Parliament has argued that supporting independent third-party repair businesses will help achieve these goals. MEPs are asking companies to be required to make official parts and repair schematics for their devices easily accessible to outside companies to make the sector more competitive.

National governments may also have to incentivise repair instead of device replacement, such as by offering citizens financial incentives to opt for repair, as well as by giving repair companies grants to kickstart their businesses.

Passing by 590 votes in favour to 15 against, MEPs appeared enthusiastic about the newly passed ‘negotiating framework’. Many apparently see the legislation as a way of reducing waste while improving the welfare of European consumers.

“I believe that the proposed regulation will contribute to the creation of an effective repair market in the European Union, from which we will all benefit,” European Conservatives and Reformists group MEP Beata Mazurek said in a statement.

The proposal also received hefty praise from the Greens, with Anna Cavazzini – a German MEP for the group – describing it as “revolutionary”.

“The Right-to-Repair legislation isn’t just about giving you the freedom to fix your gadgets; it’s about handing you the power to choose repair over replacement,” she said.

“It’s about breaking the cycle of forced obsolescence, reducing electronic waste and steering us towards a circular economy that benefits both consumers and the planet.”

Right-to-repair is not universally loved, with private enterprise groups often being the most critical.

Big Tech organisations such as Apple have frequently expressed concern that releasing schematics and parts for electronic devices to third-party repair outfits could cause security problems, loosening a company’s control of its relatively closed-door ecosystem.

Having previously been a fierce challenger of US Right-to-Repair bills in the past, Apple has softened its stance over the past year, instead opting to try to influence new legislation so that it matches the interests of enterprise with consumer rights.

“Apple … supports a uniform federal law that balances repairability with product integrity, data security, usability and physical safety,” senior Apple representative Brian Naumann previously told US news network CNBC.

He added that Apple would prefer any federal legislation on the topic to “maintain privacy, data and device security features”, to “ensure transparency for consumers” and to “create a strong national standard that benefits consumers” across America.