The Right to Repair Europe coalition, representing more than 130 organisations, is concerned that new EU repair rules are missing the chance to unlock the European repair economy. Over 1600 European companies supported our letter to the Spanish and Belgian Justice Ministers, asking for an open repair market.
Unless the EU institutions introduce rules for reasonable spare part prices and ban anti-repair practices preventing the use of compatible and reused spare parts, we don’t see how European consumers will get any better access to affordable repairs. In order to do this, we need them to support the European Parliament’s version of Art5.3.
We must stress the importance of giving EU citizens access to affordable repairs in the context of the cost of living crisis and high inflation. A horizontal rule for “reasonable and non-discriminatory prices of spare parts”, as seen in the battery regulation, is urgently needed. Both because of currently exorbitant prices and because no existing ecodesign delegated act, nor the recently approved ecodesign regulation (ESPR) protects consumers from these abuses.
We also wish to reiterate that lack of access to repair and software support does not lead to more security. The digital industry argues that making repairs difficult and expensive protects consumers’ safety, privacy and cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity expert Paul Roberts, testified at the US House Judiciary on behalf of more than 350 cyber security and information technology professionals that they “ (…) have yet to find any evidence that the types of information covered by right to repair laws – schematic diagrams, service manuals, diagnostic software and replacement parts – act as a portal to cyber attacks.”
In reality, the opposite is true. Manufacturers are flooding the market with insecure, hackable internet connected devices for which they drop hardware, software and security support well ahead of the end of their lifespan. Empowering owners and independent repairers via access to repair information, compatible spare parts and software support will enable us to safely keep them in use.
The ban of anti-repair practices such as parts-pairing is crucial to this aim. Addressing the European Commission expert Paul Roberts said: “Arguments that link part pairing to cybersecurity are really an attempt by OEMs to find a justification for the actual purpose of part pairing: establishing and enforcing aftermarket parts and service monopolies that stifle competition from consumers (self repair) and third parties.” The reality is that gatekeeping repair makes the digital industry lots of money. In the case of Apple, this has been estimated to make them around $9 billion annually. The industry is clearly divided on this anti-competitive practice, with Google having publicly come up in favour of a ban on parts-pairing.
Without opening up the repair market for a broad ecosystem of actors the EU institutions will miss the chance to create jobs, save resources, ease the financial burden on citizens and prevent e-waste.
Our priorities for trilogue negotiators:
- Deliver right to repair for all products
- Broad and affordable access to repair information and all spare parts
- Transparency on pricing of original spare parts
- Support the use of compatible parts and ban anti-repair techniques enacted by manufacturers
- Empower Member States to introduce repair funds and vouchers
- Give the priority to repair within the legal guarantee framework
More info on our trilogue priorities here
Watch our 1-min video illustrating anti-repair practices and why they must be banned: