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MEPs seek financial perks for consumer-product repair

8 months ago 29

MEPs have voted to strengthen consumers' right to repair goods by proposing financial incentives to avoid replacement culture and promoting easier ways to fix products.

The proposal for a directive was approved by the internal market and consumer protection committee (IMCO) with 38 votes in favour, just two against, and zero abstentions on Wednesday (25 October) .

The parliament's position still has to be agreed at a plenary session.

The draft text aims to establish repair obligations for producers and quality and affordable service for consumers. This will improve both environmental and consumer protection, MEPs believe.

"Through better access to relevant technical repair information and affordable spare parts for repairers, more competition will drive down repair costs," said German centre-left MEP and rapporteur René Repasi.

"We coupled this with an obligation on member states to establish financial incentives to kick-start the repair sector," Repasi added.

Repairers must now offer a free remedy within the legal warranty period, unless this option is more expensive than a replacement, or in cases where it is not possible or convenient for the consumer.

For some products, such as vacuum cleaners, smartphones, or bicycles, manufacturers will be required to repair them beyond the legal warranty period and within a "reasonable time".

In the meantime, loan products should be offered so as not to discourage consumers from repairing them. If the product cannot be repaired, sellers could offer a refurbished model instead.

MEPs have also called for a one-year extension of the legal guarantee period for repaired products, as well as financial incentives such as vouchers or national repair funds to boost the repair culture in the EU.

Online platforms at the national level are proposed to help consumers find repairers, where an information form on repairs would help them compare prices, times, and conditions.

In addition, product waste is to be significantly reduced.

According to the European Commission, the early disposal of viable consumer goods results in 261 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions and 35 million tonnes of waste in the EU each year.

Only 20 percent of all phones and computers in the EU are repaired.

"A more circular economy where we encourage prolonging the life of products will make our economies more sustainable," said Swedish centre-right MEP Arba Kokalari ahead of the committee vote.

Consumers also lose nearly €12bn a year by replacing goods that could be repaired, EU figures showed.

The initiative is to benefit sellers and manufacturers, with €15.6bn expected to be saved over the next 15 years by repairing products rather than replacing them under the legal guarantee.

In terms of growth and investment, the EU executive has calculated that €4.8bn could be generated in the economy of the bloc.

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