This article was written by Rosalie Heens from Repair&Share, with contributions from Thomas Opsomer and Flavie Vonderscher.

New on the menu: Repair Index Belgian Style

In January Belgium adopted a new law that obliges manufacturers and retailers to provide a repairability index for (certain) household appliances, from 2026. With this initiative, Belgium becomes the second European country to introduce a repairability index, after France. 

The Belgian repairability index follows the recipe of the French index. It uses the same calculation method1 and covers the same product categories (with the exception of smartphones)2.

Will the Repair index be a nice starter?

The debates to introduce a repairability score in Belgium have been going on for many years. Repair&Share welcomes the fact that finally this step has been taken and that the Minister did not give in to the pressure from industry and retail federations to shelve the plans and wait quietly for a European index to come.

We support the introduction of a repair index because experiences in France show that it’s a good measure to encourage both consumers and producers to take repairability into account. That being said, we regret that compared to France, Belgium is lagging far behind when it comes to stimulating repair. In France, the Repair Score is part of a broader policy framework to stimulate repair, including a repair fund and measures to stimulate the second-hand spare parts market. In Belgium the repair score seems to be a stand-alone measure, which will clearly limit its effect. We urge Belgian policymakers to further follow the example of France and take a package of measures to stimulate the repair economy. If Belgium limits its efforts to this one measure, the repair economy will remain hungry.

Or will we get diluted soup?

Repair&Share is also looking with some concern at the plans of the European chefs. In 2023, during a Tris procedure, they curtailed the Belgian ambition to use the repair index as a way to impose minimum standards for products on the market. This limits the effect of the repair index on manufacturers and makes it primarily an informative measure. Another concern is that European repair indexes – that will gradually replace national repair indexes – do not include yet spare part prices as a criterion for the calculation of the score, although price is one of the main obstacles for people to choose for repair. With Right to Repair Europe, we strongly call on our Europe chefs to soup repair measures up, rather than to dilute them.

Thomas Opsomer, repair policy engineer at iFixit, said: „we are happy to see a second European country implement a repair score, especially one that includes the crucial criterion of spare parts prices. We hope that this will help to drive the point home that integrating the price in EU repair scores is not only possible, but necessary. It is one of the key factors that determine the chances of a product actually being repaired, and with parts prices varying wildly across brands and products, consumers need to know what to expect in order to make informed choices. Surveys have shown that the vast majority of consumers indeed expect this aspect to be reflected in a repair score.“

Flavie Vonderscher, advocacy officer at HOP, Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée said: We are delighted that such a measure has been taken in Belgium. This is further proof that the French model inspires other countries, and that taking price into account is both indispensable and feasible. This is a further strong signal for Europe, which should align the ambitions of the European index with these national examples, rather than lowering them. However, we can only wonder about the results of this index if it is not accompanied by other measures enabling repair. In France, the AGEC law of 2020 introduced some innovative and essential elements in an attempt to address the problem in a comprehensive way: the prohibition of intentional irreparability practices, the introduction of the repair bonus and measures relating to the availability of spare parts. And all this to complement the recognition of the prohibition of planned obsolescence in 2015.

[1] The score is calculated taking into account the availability of technical information and maintenance manuals, the ease of disassembly of the device and accessibility of parts with standard tools, the availability and delivery time of individual spare parts, the price of parts compared to the cost of the device and some product-specific criteria, like a usage counter or reset options. Based on the score for every criterion, a general score is calculated, resulting in a general repairability score between 1 and 10.

[2] Washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, high-pressure cleaners, (electric) lawn mowers, televisions, laptops.