EU campaigning pays off with promising new repair rules, but we need many more products to be covered

After years of intense campaigning by right to repair advocates, EU lawmakers have finally agreed upon new repair rules.(1) The Right to Repair Europe coalition, representing more than 140 organisations in 24 European countries, celebrates that the new law will pave the way for better access to affordable repairs for selected products. We applaud the rules on reasonable prices for original parts as well as the ban of software practices which prevent independent repair and the use of compatible and reused spare parts. This is a step in the right direction for affordable repair.

However, we must note that with the adoption of the law, a major chance is being missed to create a truly fair repair market in Europe and to ensure affordable repair solutions for the majority of products on the European market. We regret that the scope of products covered remains very narrow and that many loopholes were introduced. We call for a swift implementation of these rules, including Commission guidelines on the definition of “reasonable” prices for spare parts, a solid execution of the ban on anti-repair practices and the introduction of national financial incentives for repair by EU Member States. 

EU countries will have two years to incorporate this directive into their national legislation.

We urge the next EU Commission (post-EU elections in June 2024) to continue working on legal acts setting repairability requirements(2) for additional product categories to swiftly expand the scope of these new repair rules.

1. Better access to repair for a selection of products
The new rules will be set to improve European consumers’ access to repair for a selection of products. The scope is limited to goods purchased by consumers (neither business-to-business nor industrial goods are covered) and to products already covered by repairability requirements under EU law. Presently, this means washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers, fridges, TVs, welders, vacuum cleaners, servers, phones, tablets and the batteries of light means of transport (such as e-bikes and e-scooters). The scope will automatically be expanded by the European Commission within 12 months after the adoption of any new legal acts setting repairability requirements (i.e. not limited to Ecodesign).

1.a. Obligation for manufacturers to repair beyond the legal guarantee period
We welcome that producers will for the first time be required to offer repair options beyond the legal guarantee period of two years, for a duration of up to 10 years depending on the product. These repairs will need to be carried out by the producers (or via their sub-contracted operators) for free or against a “reasonable price”. Consumers may be offered a replacement product during the repair period. 

1.b. Fairer access to spare parts for independent repairers
We applaud that parts and tools (insofar as available per other legislative requirements) need to be sold to independent repairers “at a reasonable price that does not deter repair”. Despite our demands, the rules do not provide any indication of what a “reasonable” part price actually means. The European Commission should draw up guidelines on the precise meaning of appropriate spare parts prices in order to facilitate the implementation of this requirement for all stakeholders involved. Otherwise, we will need to wait for national courts to establish its definition through legal cases. It will be crucial for the repair movement, including consumer organisations and the independent repair sector, to seize this legal tool and take manufacturers that sell spare parts at unreasonably high prices to court.
You can consult our work on spare part prices here. In short: most people will only consider a repair if the total cost of the repair is less than 30–40% of the product value.(3) Given that the cost of any given repair is usually composed of labour cost and spare parts cost (assuming there is no transportation cost for the repairer), in order for the repair to stay below the critical threshold, it is reasonable to estimate that the price of spare parts should stay below 15-20% of the product price.(4)
Regrettably, the current law also fails to offer broader access to more repair information and more spare parts.
We furthermore celebrate the ban on “contractual clauses, hardware or software techniques that impede the repair” for the products in scope. Our campaign worked persistently to bring these unfair practices to the policymakers’ attention.
However, it remains to be seen to what extent loopholes will persist, as the text adds the following vague exemption to the ban: “unless justified by legitimate and objective factors including the protection of intellectual property rights under Union and national legal acts”. This exemption is very blurry and it leaves the door open for manufacturers to continue enacting unfair anti-repair practices, just stating it is “legitimate”.

2. Improved attractivity of repair under the legal guarantee
To improve the attractivity of repair (vis-à-vis replacement) under the legal guarantee, we welcome that the guarantee will be extended by 12 months if consumers opt for repair. This will result in a total of 3-year legal guarantee coverage in most EU countries, while there is no extension if consumers  opt for replacement. Sellers will be required to inform consumers of the choice between repair and replacement and of the guarantee extension in case of repair. Refurbished goods may be provided as replacements upon explicit request from the consumer.

3. One step closer to national financial incentives for repair – but we still need to make it happen
EU lawmakers also require Member States to implement at least one national measure promoting repair. They propose a non-binding list(5) of financial and non-financial options such as support to community-led repair initiatives or information campaigns. Among financial measures, EU lawmakers propose the financing of training programs to acquire special skills in repair or national repair vouchers/funds. The latter schemes have already proven successful as a viable strategy to improve repair affordability and to create local jobs in Austria, Germany and France. 

EU lawmakers also remind(6) national authorities that the EU framework already allows Member States to apply a reduced value-added tax (VAT) on repair services of household appliances, shoes and leather goods, clothing and household linen. Despite this, to date only 7 member states have been experimenting with reduced VAT for repair services. 

Needless to say that during the two years of transposition of this directive into national legislation, it will be crucial for the right to repair movement to keep up the momentum via national campaigns and knowledge sharing on successful national initiatives. Based on data we collected so far, it is essential that financial incentives for repair are introduced in all countries.

4. Online matchmaking platform and European repair form 
The EU Commission will introduce a European online platform listing repair and buyback solutions in Member States and harmonised cost estimations, with the aim to increase the visibility of repair options and transparency for their costs.

Upon consumers’ request, repairers may choose to submit a harmonised repair quote/estimation called the “European Repair Information Form”, including binding information such as the type or repair suggested and its price or, if the precise cost cannot be calculated, the applicable calculation method and maximum price of repair.

While it is generally a good idea to increase the visibility of repair services and make it easier for consumers to find suitable service providers, this will only be effective as long as there is an adequate repair infrastructure that is also visible on the platform. Widespread coverage of repair service providers across Europe will only be realised by improving the conditions for independent repairers, i.e. by implementing the above mentioned aspects of the directive relating to reasonable spare parts prices and the ban on software blocking and creating a fair repair market.

5. Missed opportunities

Considering the limited scope and ambition, we feel that the opportunity was missed to make this initiative into something that would actually merit the title ‘Right to repair directive’. As things stand, this piece of regulation could be more aptly described as an ‘annex to the existing ecodesign regulations.’ In essence, its main effect will be to somewhat increase the chances that the small number of products that already had to be repairable by law anyway, will actually end up being repaired. 

Given that it does not, nor will in the foreseeable future, apply to the vast majority of short-lived products flooding the EU market,(7) it would be very optimistic indeed to expect that these measures will make a dent in the use of resources and the production of e-waste.

The list of missed opportunities is long. For example, in order for the guarantee to actually prolong the life of products, we had suggested a mandatory priority for repair over replacement under the guarantee along with strengthening the independent repair sector by allowing them to perform repairs under the guarantee. While giving priority to repair rather than replacement within the legal guarantee was included in the original proposal by the Commission, it didn’t make it through negotiations, and our proposal for in-guarantee repairs to be performed by independent repairers didn’t make it either.

There are also many ambitious provisions which the Parliament had agreed upon after extensive internal negotiations, only for them to be thrown out in favour of the Council’s drastically less ambitious stance during the trialogues:

– The right for the consumer to make a guarantee claim directly to the producer;

– The right for the consumer to choose for the producer to repair a good that is not in conformity, with any terms of a commercial guarantee that discourage the consumer from making use of this right being void;

– The right for the consumer to have a product repaired unless this is factually or legally impossible (with the producer not allowed to refuse the consumer’s request purely due to economic considerations such as the costs);

– The right for independent repairers, remanufacturers, refurbishers and end-users to have access to all spare parts and all repair-related information and tools, including diagnosis tools for a period corresponding to at least the expected lifespan of the product;

– The obligation for producers to publish all information related to repair (such as repair prices and prices of spare parts) on their websites;

– The possibility for legislators to add products to the list even if not covered by Ecodesign or other requirements.

We find it quite regrettable that in the end, the voice of our democratically elected representatives did not prevail. Our coalition will continue to push for ambitious repairability requirements for as many additional product categories as possible, as well as working with members focused on the implementation of the directive in each member state, to ensure that this and other pieces of legislation actually make a difference for European consumers and for the prevention of e-waste. 

Cristina Ganapini
Coordinator of Right to Repair Europe Email:


(1) legal text of the directive
EU lawmakers also agreed on a new EU Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR). This framework regulation will enable the EU Commission to set minimum repairability requirements for further product categories. Our coalition managed to put energy-related products, ICT products and other electronics as part of their next priorities.
Deloitte quoted 30% for French consumers and 30-40% for Swedish consumers (presentation from Expert workshop towards increased repair of household EEE (Brussels, 2017), p. 48-49). This may be a high estimate: according to Sahra Svensson-Hoglund ea., Barriers, enablers and market governance: A review of the policy landscape for repair of consumer electronics in the EU and the U.S. (2021), “generally, the willingness to pay for repairs of small electronics has been estimated to be 20% of the replacement cost” (p. 6, citing McCollough (2007)). See also the European Commission’s Behavioural Study on Consumers’ Engagement in the Circular Economy (October 2018).
(4) This threshold is proposed in Florent Curel e.a., Guide pratique: Rendre la réparation accessible (Club de la durabilité, 2023), p. 4.
(5) Member States’ measures promoting repair can include information campaigns, support to community-led repair initiatives, repair vouchers, repair funds, supporting or creating local or regional repair platforms, organising or financing training programs to acquire special skills in repair and taxation measures. These measures can be taken at a national, regional or local level.
(6) The French Minister Christophe Béchu already advocates lowering VAT rates and argues that the measure could bring several billion euros back into the state coffers.
(7) To name just a few categories of electric and electronic products not covered: appliances such as heaters, water heaters, air conditioners and fans; domestic systems such as lighting, solar energy systems, home automation, routers, and security systems; small household and kitchen appliances such as such a clothes irons, coffee machines, kettles, toasters, fryers, grills, juicers, blenders, and mixers; entertainment products such as set top boxes, game consoles, e-readers, toys, and drones; music products such as digital media players, headphones, earbuds, speakers, and amplifiers; personal hygiene products such as hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, shavers, trimmers, and epilators; DIY products such as drills, saws, and sanders; garden tools such as lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, chainsaws, and shredders. And unfortunately the list goes on and on.