Repair Directive Clears Penultimate Hurdle

The European Parliament today adopted the (amended) proposal for a directive on the so-called “right to repair” by 584 votes to 3 with 14 abstentions (“Legislative Resolution” of the European Parliament of April 23, 2024 ). The legislative process is thus entering the home straight (the Council still has to formally adopt the text). Time for a first look at some fundamental changes to the original proposal (see our detailed blog post on the proposed directive here):

  • The core of the proposed directive, namely the obligation of manufacturers of certain products (in particular washing machines, vacuum cleaners and cell phones) to repair them upon the request of consumers in accordance with Art. 5 (1), has been supplemented by various accompanying provisions. In particular, it is now also stipulated that manufacturers may not use contractual clauses or hardware or software techniques that hinder the repair of the relevant products, unless this is justified by legitimate and objective factors such as the protection of intellectual property rights (Art. 5 para. 6). Manufacturers may also not refuse to repair the relevant products solely because a previous repair was carried out by other repairers or other persons (Art. 5 para. 7).
  • Contrary to what was originally planned, the seller shall, according to the current text, not be obliged to rectify the defect (repair) instead of a replacement delivery if the costs for the replacement delivery are at least equal to the rectification costs. This provision in Art. 12 of the proposed directive was subject to massive criticism because it would have restricted the consumer’s free choice between replacement and repair. Instead, rectification is now to be strengthened through a combination of information and incentives (extension of the warranty period for rectification by 12 months).
  • Instead of the originally envisaged obligation of the Member States to ensure that at least one online repair platform exists for their respective territories, a European online platform with national branches (sections) has been set up (Art. 7 (1)). In particular, this is intended to indicate local repair businesses or repair initiatives in the neighborhood, e.g. repair cafés, and thus help consumers to find repair options as easily as possible. The Commission must develop the corresponding interface within three years of the directive coming into force. If Member States have corresponding platforms within these three years, they can retain them.

What happens next? The Council still has to formally adopt the text. If this happens as expected, the directive will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and will enter into force 20 days later. The provisions of the directive must then be transposed into national law within two years of its entry into force.