European MPs push for right to repair rules

A smartphone should be as fixable as a refrigerator

Techie wields circular saw while standing over the innards of a workstation. Photo by Shutterstock

The European Parliament has recommended better consumer product protection, asking that durable products be durable and repairable by independent workshops.

It's not a fait accompli for the right to repair: it's up to member states and the European Commission to put the recommendations into effect.

At a plenary session in Strasbourg, the parliament said “tangible goods and software should be easier to repair and update, and made a plea to tackle built-in obsolescence and make spare parts affordable”.

Some elements of their complaint, which they say is backed by citizen surveys, will be all-too-familiar with The Register's readers: batteries glued in place, and LEDs that likewise can't be replaced.

There's also the issue of spare parts, which are either exorbitantly expensive, or pulled from the shelves while a product is still usable. Spares, the recommendation says, “should be available at a price commensurate with the nature and life-time of the product”.

The practice of bricking products if a “non-approved” repairer works on it should be “discouraged”, the MEPs decided.

Some kind of certification is also on the table: products should be tested to assess their planned obsolescence, and rated accordingly, possibly with a voluntary European label scheme indicating “durability, eco-design features, upgradeability in line with technical progress and reparability”.

Manufacturers would be discouraged from gaming the system with slow workshops: if a repair takes longer than a month, the MEPs say, that time should be added to the product's warranty period. ®


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