The right to repair after the warranty period as a new consumer right in the EU

16. 5. 2023
The right to repair after the warranty period as a new consumer right in the EU

At the end of March this year, the European Commission presented its final proposal for a directive on common rules to promote the repair of products. The aim of this directive is not only to contribute to the objectives of the Green Deal for Europe, such as sustainable consumption and development of a circular economy, but also to improve the position of consumers, particularly as regards the repair of purchased products. The proposal for a directive introduces a “right to repair” for consumers, both within and after the expiry of the statutory guarantee.

The statutory warranty also changes the approach, with repair, rather than replacement, being the primary remedy for defective goods. The exception to this rule is where repair is more expensive.

As part of the after-sales service, several measures have been taken to simplify the process of repairing malfunctioning products and thus prolong their usage. The most significant change is therefore the right to request repair after the expiry of the statutory warranty, which will initially apply to household appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers, with the range of repairable goods gradually being extended to mobile phones and others. This entails an information obligation for manufacturers to inform consumers about the repair options for the product they have purchased.

Online search portals will be set up at national levels, through which repair service options can be easily searched and compared. Consumers will then be able to request a European Repair Information Form from any repairer, which will contain not only standardized information on repair conditions but also approximate repair prices.

This Directive complements the previously presented Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation and the Directive on empowering consumers for the green transition. The European Union expects these measures not only to develop the repairs sector, but also to grow sustainable product development and reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing. In the future, the possibility of product labelling is also being considered, whereby the consumer would already know at the time of purchase whether the product is easily repairable.

Some Member States have also started to act on their own initiative, for example in Germany the requirement to extend the viability and reparability of products is part of the coalition agreement of the governing political parties. Although a specific law has not yet been adopted, it is anticipated that certain requirements for eco-friendly product design will be set and in order to promote this idea, also financial support will be granted.

The proposal for a Directive will now be examined by the European Parliament and the Council under the ordinary legislative procedure.

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