EFS Consulting

EU’s Right to Repair – a Detriment to Manufacturers

The provisional deal of the EU opens up the aftersales and repair market for multiple product categories.  

This February, the European Council and Parliament have reached a provisional deal on the Directive that promotes the repair of broken or defective goods, also known as the Right to Repair (or R2R) Directive. By doing so, the EU wants to push consumers towards using their products for a longer time, decreasing and waste and, at the same time, make the EU repair and aftersales market more competitive.

The law will establish the consumers’ right to repair, i.e., giving the consumer the right to choose between repair and replacement when a product is broken or defective. The rationale behind this idea is that consumers have more awareness regarding the lifespan and repairability of. Since electronics is the fastest growing waste stream, the EU seems particularly eager to focus electric and electronic products.

What does the law say?

The new legislation requires sellers to repair products within a reasonable time during the legal guarantee period. Before, it was possible for manufacturers to immediately propose the exchange with a new product. For the consumer, this means that they can choose to have their products repaired, and not to have it immediately replaced by the seller. This service must either be provided for free, or at a reasonable price. Furthermore, following the repair, there will be a legal one-year extension of the guarantee.

The rules are applicable only to products of specific product categories: smartphones and tablets, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, fridges, displays, welding equipment, servers, and soon vacuum cleaners.

What are the implications to manufacturers?

The scope of products affected is quite limited, however, it includes a lot of consumer and household products. For these products, repairers must be able to fix faulty items. Consequently, manufactures are obliged to make spare parts and tools available for a reasonable price. They are also prohibited of any practices that could obstruct repairs, such as restrictive contract clauses, hardware or software blocks of the products.

This also opens up the aftersales markets for these products. Manufacturers will face increased competition by repairers who may fix products at lower costs, but also will see additional, cheaper products on the European market. In summary, the law covers only a limited group of products, however, manufacturers will face increased competition in the aftersales and repair market. The law may also serve as a trial on the European market and lay the basis for the inclusion of further product categories. Read the final compromise text here.

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