European Right to Repair (cepPolicyBrief)
Smartphones, laptops, fridges: especially electrical appliances should be easier to repair for the sake of the environment. The EU Commission therefore wants to introduce a so-called right to repair with a new directive promoting the repair of goods. According to the Centre for European Policy (cep), the Commission’s proposal overshoots the mark to some extent.
“If the repair is cheaper than the replacement during the warranty period, the right to repair in fact becomes an obligation to repair. This restricts the consumer’s choice,” says cep environmental expert Svenja Schwind. She analysed the proposal with cep lawyers Götz Reichert and Patrick Stockebrandt.
According to the cep scientists, the advantages and disadvantages balance each other out. For example, repairs would be made easier in principle, since consumers would have a direct point of contact with the manufacturer as well as more information about repair options. However, especially in connection with the already existing ecodesign requirements, conflicts of goals could arise, emphasises Reichert. A repair is not always automatically ecologically sensible, for example, if a new refrigerator consumes significantly less electricity. Moreover, products that have been in use for a long time could inhibit companies’ willingness to innovate and thus technical progress, explains Schwind.
In addition, Stockebrandt warns against demands from the European Parliament to allow the Commission to include new products in the Repair Promotion Directive. “This essential decision must be taken by the EU legislator itself,” Stockebrandt explains.