Europe’s right-to-repair rules will force vendors to stand by their products an extra 12 months after a repair is made, according to the terms of a new political agreement.
Consumers will have a choice between repair and replacement of defective products during a liability period that sellers will be required to offer. The liability period is slated to be a minimum of two years before any extensions.
“If the consumer chooses the repair of the good, the seller’s liability period will be extended by 12 months from the moment when the product is brought into conformity. This period may be further prolonged by member states if they so wish,” a European Council announcement on Friday said.
The 12-month extension is part of a provisional deal between the European Parliament and Council on how to implement the European Commission’s right-to-repair directive that was passed in March 2023. The Parliament and Council still need to formally adopt the agreement, which would then come into force 20 days after it is published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
“Once adopted, the new rules will introduce a new ‘right to repair’ for consumers, both within and beyond the legal guarantee, which will make it easier and more cost-effective for them to repair products instead of simply replacing them with new ones,” the European Commission said on Friday.
Rules prohibit “barriers to repair”
The rules require spare parts to be available at reasonable prices, and product makers will be prohibited from using “contractual, hardware or software related barriers to repair, such as impeding the use of second-hand, compatible and 3D-printed spare parts by independent repairers,” the Commission said.
The newly agreed-upon text “requires manufacturers to make the necessary repairs within a reasonable time and, unless the service is provided for free, for a reasonable price too, so that consumers are encouraged to opt for repair,” the European Council said.
There will be required options for consumers to get repairs both before and after the minimum liability period expires, the Commission said:
When a defect appears within the legal guarantee, consumers will now benefit from a prolonged legal guarantee of one year if they choose to have their products repaired.
When the legal guarantee has expired, the consumers will be able to request an easier and cheaper repair of defects in those products that must be technically repairable (such as tablets, smartphones but also washing machines, dishwashers, etc.). Manufacturers will be required to publish information about their repair services, including indicative prices of the most common repairs.
The overarching goal as stated by the Commission is to overcome “obstacles that discourage consumers to repair due to inconvenience, lack of transparency or difficult access to repair services.” To make finding repair services easier for users, the Council said it plans a European-wide online platform “to facilitate the matchmaking between consumers and repairers.”