European Parliament Votes to Support Right to Repair

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The European Parliament has this week voted to support the recommendations of the EU Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection on the “Right to Repair,” including a system of mandatory labelling on consumer electronics to provide explicit information on the repairability and lifespan of products (via iFixit).

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The motion will compel the EU Commission to “develop and introduce mandatory labeling, to provide clear, immediately visible and easy-to-understand information to consumers on the estimated lifetime and reparability of a product at the time of purchase.” This includes a repair score, akin to the repairability scores assigned by iFixit, being clearly shown on goods at the point of purchase. France is already planning to roll out repairability ratings for smartphones, laptops, and other products from January 2021.

“By adopting this report, the European Parliament sent a clear message: harmonized mandatory labeling indicating durability and tackling premature obsolescence at EU level is the way forward,” said French MEP David Cormand.

According to a recent EU survey of public opinion, 77 percent of EU citizens would rather repair their devices than replace them and 79 percent think that manufacturers should be legally obliged to facilitate the repair of digital devices or the replacement of their individual parts.

“We hope this will translate into swift action to bring a mandatory repairability score index for all electricals and electronic products sold across the EU, to help consumers to shop with confidence,” said Ugo Vallauri, Co-Founder of the Restart Project and the European Right to Repair Campaign

Apple has repeatedly been criticized for disproportionate repair prices, such as the $79 fee to service the $99 HomePod mini, and arbitrary limits on repairs, such as barring repair of the iPhone 12‘s camera without access to Apple’s proprietary cloud-linked System Configuration app.

Yesterday, the UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee published a report chastising Apple for contributing to a “throwaway culture” of “short-lived products.”

The EU motion is likely to encourage a range of repair-friendly policies and product disclosures, but this will be contingent on the European Commission legislating to bring them into effect.

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