On 31 August, the first EU Ecodesign and Energy Labelling rules on mobile phones and tablets were published in the Official Journal of the European Union. By June 2025, these products will have to be designed to be longer lasting and more repairable, marking a new era for the sustainability of electronic products.
These regulations will empower independent repairers and end-users by ensuring access to spare parts and to the information necessary to repair for at least 7 years after the end of the distribution of a product in the market. Additionally, manufacturers will have to make compatible software updates available for at least 5 years.
On reliability, smartphones will have to withstand at least 45 accidental drops without functional impairment and maintain at least 80% of their battery capacity after undergoing 800 charging cycles. Tablets are to follow the same rules, but only for their battery capacity.
Consumers will also benefit from better access to information about the overall repairability of smartphones thanks to a repair index. Following the French experiment where repairability indexes have been in place since 2021 for several categories of electronic devices (including smartphones), this will be the first time such a measure is taken at EU level. Electronic displays and washing machines are also currently being considered by the European Commission for similar rules.
This is just the beginning of our journey!
These regulations are a big step for the ecodesign of smartphones and tablets and of ICT products in general. They set good practices that are fundamental to ensure a universal right to repair, and we are looking forward to seeing how the regulated products will be designed. Nonetheless, this is just the beginning, and there is still significant progress to be made.
For example, the affordability of repair is not tackled as the price of spare parts is neither limited nor considered in the calculation of the repair index. Given that the price of repair is one of the main factors that influences the choice of end-users to repair a product or not, it is regrettable that manufacturers will only have to indicate the pre-tax prices of the spare parts, prices to which manufacturers will not have to commit.
Furthermore, the text poorly tackles the matter of part-pairing, one of the main barriers to repairing products for end-users and independent repairers. Professional repairers will have access to information and tools to substitute and repair serialised parts, which is a significant win. However, an outright ban of part-pairing would have been a more fundamental step towards a universal right to repair, and we regret that the opportunity was not seized.
Finally, we believe the legislation could have gone further in terms of facilitating self-repair. Manufacturers will still have the option not to provide spare batteries to end-users, under the condition that they respect certain longevity and waterproofness requirements. This creates a false dichotomy between repairability and durability, especially given that a number of waterproof electronic products with replaceable batteries (including smartphones) are already on the market. We also regret the significantly limited number of spare parts available to end-users, as compared to the list that concerns professional repairers.
The Right to Repair Europe coalition will keep on pushing for a universal right to repair, and we consider these regulations as a victory for the environment and all repair professionals and enthusiasts. We hope to replicate what we have accomplished with these regulations, bringing new ecodesign requirements for other categories of electronics.
Mathieu Rama, ECOS, said: “New ecodesign rules for mobile phones and tablets are a major step forward. The EU is leading the way towards sustainable tech. We are also looking forward to the improvement of repairability, reliability, and information requirements for other electronic products such as laptops and printers – developments that are already in the pipeline. While all this is good news, we also call for a horizontal approach to the circularity of electronics as many repairability and durability requirements could be applied to several product types in one go instead of product by product.”
Claire Darmon, Swappie, said: “This is groundbreaking legislation and one that repair providers have been expecting for a long time. This is a first step towards a more integrated repair market where independent professionals can offer quality, safe and affordable repair to consumers on par with original manufacturers. However, we need to remain vigilant of practices such as part-pairing that have the effect of restricting competition and affecting user experience. We hope the Commission will deep dive on this specific point during the upcoming review of the text.”
Thomas Opsomer, iFixit, said: „Any European who has a phone with a damaged screen and who wishes to repair it by themselves will soon have a legal right to obtain the necessary parts and repair instructions from the manufacturer. This is a huge win for all fixers, as it will affect the smartphone ecosystem worldwide. Similar regulations are urgently needed for all electronic products, and as these are developed we will keep pushing for increased ambition – including a cap on spare parts prices.“
Marie Castelli, Back Market, said: “This regulation marks the beginning of a new era for repair and refurbishment. By clearly putting repairability and reliability at the heart of the criterias of product sustainability, the Commission is setting a precedent we hope will become the rule for all devices. We now urge policy makers to move forward on other consumer electronics, the production of which generates significant pollution. Let’s make the EU the leader of a more circular economy creating jobs and strategic autonomy.”
Cristina Ganapini, Coordinator of Right to Repair Europe