Reparable products as the market standard
The Green Deal is an extensive package of measures designed to create a sustainable climate-neutral economy and which focuses e.g. on extending the period over which products can be reused or recycled. One specific manifestation of this goal is the current Proposal for an Eco-Design Regulation, which provides for the centralized and digitized supply of product information and, above all, contains requirements and regulations with respect to the design and manufacture of sustainable products. This legislation is accompanied by other regulations, such as e.g.
- the Proposal for a Regulation on the making available on the market of certain commodities and products associated with deforestation and forest degradation ;
- the Proposal for a Directive empowering consumers for the green transition, which imposes restrictions on the use of statements relating to sustainability in product advertising; and
- the Proposal discussed here, for a Directive on common rules promoting the repair of goods.
Objectives of the Proposal
The main objective of the Proposal is to strengthen the level of consumer protection in the European Internal Market while at the same time promoting the “green transition.” Products should not be discarded if they can still be reused. The Commission states that harmonization is necessary in this area because rights of this kind currently exist in only rudimentary fashion in the national laws of the member states, via statutory warranties; moreover, the formulation of these rights varies from case to case.
Scope of application
The Proposal applies to consumer products which are not covered by the statutory warranty system, e.g. because the defect in question did not yet exist at the time the product was delivered to the consumer, or because the statutory or contractual warranty period has expired. The obligation to repair currently extends to the 9 product groups listed in Annex II, including household appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators, as well as electronic displays, cell phones and welding equipment.
Obligation to repair
The obligation to repair applies primarily to (EU-based) manufacturers, which are required to repair the products covered by the Proposal at the consumer’s request, either free of charge, for a fee or for some other form of consideration. The manufacturer need not perform the repair itself: it may instead delegate repair orders to repairers. Only in cases where repair is impossible for both the manufacturer or a third party does the obligation to repair cease to apply. Manufacturers are required to notify consumers in a suitable manner of their right to repair. Manufacturers must enable the repairers to access necessary spare parts and other tools and information relating to the repair.
Other economic operators affected by the Proposal
Other economic operators are also covered by the obligation to repair, in addition to EU-based manufacturers. If the manufacturer is not based in the EU, the Proposal states that the obligation to repair would then apply to its EU-based authorised representative. If the manufacturer has not appointed an authorised representative, the obligation would apply to the product’s importer or, finally, to the product’s distributor.
Formulation in practice
Under the Proposal, member states will be required to set up at least one centralized online platform which allows consumers to conduct a filter-based search for suitable repairers in their area for each product and product group. Registration on the online platform will be voluntary for repairers.
In addition, a European Repair Information Form will be introduced, which must be provided to the consumer before the repair contract is concluded in each case. As stated in the Proposal, this will be a form containing boilerplate provisions and information about the identity of the repairer and its address, as well as information
- about the type of defect and the proposed repair;
- the price or, if it cannot be provided, about calculation of the price and the maximum price;
- the expected duration of the repair; and
- the availability of replacement products during this period.
The repairer will be bound by these terms for 30 days after provided them to the consumer.
Mandatory law, enforcement and penalties
Deviation from the above rules will not be possible, whether by contract or national legislation, although companies are free at any time to offer arrangements which go beyond the protection provided in the Directive. Violations of the right to repair, failure to inform consumers of the right to repair and violations of the European Repair Information Form will be penalized by the member states based on national transposition statutes.back