On the 30th of November 2022, the European Commission released its second set of circular economy initiatives. Sadly, as expected, the long due right to repair initiative is not part of it.

Despite soaring living costs and years of citizen calls for repairable electronics, the proposal for right to repair was once more delayed and left out of this Circular Economy package. By delaying the legislation, the Commission is leaving consumers unprotected when it comes to affordable and accessible repairs, wasting precious resources in a growing mountain of hazardous e-waste. The initiative on green claims also saw itself booted out of the Circular Economy package, further delaying clear requirements for environmental claims and labels.

Why was the Right to repair initiative delayed?
The EU Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB), an independent body of the Commission that advises the College of Commissioners, blocked the right to repair initiative. We have written both to the board and to the people in charge of the proposal at the EU Commission, but they both refuse to give us access to the assessment of the RSB to shed some light on the reasons for this disappointing stop. One thing is sure, we don’t have time for this!

Green Members of the European Parliament are also trying to push for transparency and requesting access to the documents of the RSB. They submitted a written parliamentary question to the Commission. However this seems unlikely to result in anything concrete as procedurally, the RSB only publishes its opinions once the amended proposal of the Commission is eventually adopted.

The Regulatory Scrutiny Board is supposed to provide quality control and support for Commission impact assessments and evaluations at early stages of the legislative process.

But when having a closer look, one can easily see that this isn’t the first time that this Regulatory Scrutiny Board delays crucial environmental legislation. At times, this seems to be the result of coordinated lobbying and it’s time to call them out! 

How does the Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB) delay environmental legislation? 

The RSB operates in secrecy. RSB opinions delaying legislative proposals are not published anywhere. As it was pointed out by the authors of an article on the RSB and sustainable initiatives: “the RSB can operate in secret precisely in those cases where it has the biggest impact”.

For example, Members of the European Parliament have been trying for months to get public disclosure on the actual reasons behind the delays of the Sustainable Corporate Governance Initiative.

Secondly, even when published, their reasons often seem to be just default anti-regulatory arguments. Whenever a policy seems transformative & redistributive, they can argue that there are no clear predictable effects. And this blocks any possible evolution.

If all this seems confusing, have a look at this video by the excellent Corporate Europe Observatory, explaining how bananas influence the European Commission 🙂

In a nutshell. What do we want?

➡️ We want us to be the owners (not the tenants!) of our stuff. 

➡️ We want to fix what we own.

➡️ We want a Right to repair.

What do European institutions do? Delay and dilute their right to repair initiatives.

Even though Right to Repair is increasingly visible, we must keep pushing for fit-for-purpose policies to make repair accessible, affordable and mainstream.

Further reading
– EEB’s reaction to the II Circular Economy package
– Blog post on this delay by repair café international