12 April 2023
Radar - April 2023 – 2 of 2 Insights
Last month the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Directive on common rules promoting the repair of goods (the Repair Directive).
The proposal delivers on the EU's plans to create a circular economy by laying down rules to encourage the repair of defective goods and keep them in use for as long as possible, rather than replacing and disposing of them prematurely. This is intended to result in savings for consumers as well as support the objectives of the European Green Deal, by reducing waste and promoting sustainable consumption.
It is important to note that although the Repair Directive will not automatically be implemented in Great Britain because of Brexit, the measures will still apply to GB producers placing products on the market in the EU, and similar proposals may eventually be carried into English law although that remains to be seen.
On 11 December 2019, the European Commission announced the European Green Deal ("the Deal"), which aims to transform Europe into the first climate neutral continent in the world by 2050, which is of course no mean feat!
The Commission recognises that this will only happen if consumers and businesses are consuming and producing sustainably, but there is currently little incentive for defective products to be repaired, recycled, and re-used. Consumers regularly opt for free replacement (rather than free repair) when defective goods are still covered by the legal guarantee under the Sale of Goods Directive and returned goods often end up as waste. Outside of the guarantee period, consumers may be put off repairing defective products due to the inconvenience and expense but discarding and replacing them leads to increased waste and greenhouse gas emissions, and to unnecessary use of resources.
The recently adopted proposal for a Repair Directive (which encourages consumers to repair defective goods) is just one of the initiatives designed to address this and therefore deliver on the Deal's sustainable consumption objective. It will work in tandem with the proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (which promotes the repair of products during production) and the proposed Directive on Empowering Consumers for the Green Transition (which enables consumers to be informed about the reparability and durability of goods when deciding to purchase them) so that consumers and producers are being encouraged to repair products at all stages of their lifecycles.
The Repair Directive introduces a "right to repair" for consumers throughout a product's life. As such, when a product is still under the legal guarantee, the seller will be required to offer a repair option whenever that is cheaper than (or as costly as) replacement. For goods outside of this period, the proposed measures seek to remove any obstacles to repair, as follows:
The Commission hopes that consumers will benefit by using their products for longer and therefore saving money; the EU economy will benefit because the repair sector will grow; and the environment will benefit from less waste and thus fewer greenhouse gas emissions due to less demand for new resources.
The Repair Directive must now be adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council under the ordinary legislative procedure (but negotiations on the other legislative measures mentioned above are at a more advanced stage, as these proposals were adopted by the European Commission a year ago). We will have to wait and see whether similar proposals are adopted by the UK Government in due course and producers of goods should follow developments in this area closely.
If you need further information, please contact a member of our international product liability and product safety team.
26 April 2023
12 April 2023
by Multiple authors
by multiple authors
by multiple authors