• MEPs want tangible goods and software to be easier to repair/update
  • They advocate tackling built-in obsolescence and making spare parts affordable
  • 77% of EU citizens would prefer to repair goods, rather than buy new ones

Engineer hands repairs laptop with screwdriver ©AP Images/European Union-EP        
Promoting repair and discouraging fixed-in of essential components are among the recommendations ©AP Images/European Union-EP 

The EU Commission, member states and producers should take measures to ensure consumers can enjoy durable high-quality products that can be repaired.

The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee’s suggestions, as approved on Tuesday, include:

  • ensuring that products are designed to be robust, easily repaired and upgraded,

  • if the repair period exceeds one month, the guarantee should be extended to reflect the time required to carry out the repair,

  • consumers should have the option of going to an independent repairer: technical, safety or software solutions which prevent repairs from being performed, other than by approved firms or bodies, should be discouraged,

  • member states should consider offering “appropriate incentives” for durable products which can be repaired, boosting repairs and second-hand sales - this could help to create jobs and reduce waste,

  • parts which are crucial to the functioning of the product should be replaceable and reparable; essential components, such as batteries and LEDs, should not be fixed into products, unless justified for safety reasons,

  • spare parts essential to the functioning of the goods should be made available “at a price commensurate to the nature and life-time of the product”; economic operators should clearly indicate whether spare parts are available or not, on what terms and for how long,

  • an EU-wide definition of “planned obsolescence” for tangible goods and software should be introduced, and “appropriate dissuasive measures for producers” should be put in place.

According to a 2014 Eurobarometer survey, 77% of EU citizens would rather repair their goods than buy new ones, but ultimately have to replace or discard them because they are discouraged by the cost of repairs and the level of service provided.

An EU label to inform consumers better

Internal Market Committee MEPs ask the Commission to consider a “voluntary European label” covering, in particular, the product's durability, eco-design features, upgradeability in line with technical progress and reparability.

The EU had never taken a global position on the lifetime of products before this report, either regarding design, repair or reuse of goods, or on measures against planned and software obsolescence. It is in the interest of producers to fight against premature obsolescence of products, but also is to the benefit of consumers and workers and saves resources. This report addresses for the first time software obsolescence, which plays a major role in the lifespan of most household devices

Rapporteur Pascal Durand (Greens/EFA, FR). 

Next steps

The non-binding resolution was approved in the committee by 34 votes in favour, none against and one abstention. It will be voted by the full House in July’s plenary session.