Europe moves considerably closer to the right to repair

The discussion on the right to repair has been quite active for a few years now, partly due to business techniques as reprehensible as planned obsolescence, but also due to the excesses of a social and economic model in which repair, in a wide range of product types, had been completely relegated. A time when a product or device that still works perfectly, but with a problem in one of its components, is discarded and replaced by a newer one, with all the points against such an attitude.

Fortunately, more and more people are aware of the nonsense that this model supposes, and little by little the habit of repairing is returning. A very insignificant example, but one that I have been repairing for years, is that of shoe repair shops, since at least those closest to my environment seem to have experienced a growth in clientele in recent times. Of course, this is not a case in which the right to claim is so necessary, since shoe manufacturers, in general, do not hinder their products from passing through repair shops.

That is why, when speaking of the right to repair, we must pay special attention to the consumer electronics market Well, although it is not the only one, far from it, it is one of the most representative of the abandonment of repair. And in some aspects it is understandable, since repairing certain types of problems, such as a board broken in half or a chip that has burned, is very complex at a technical level. However, and this is where the right to repair comes in, because of its construction and design, in the end it is also the right to replace some components that, with other designs, would make it easier.

In other words, manufacturers, as a general rule, are not friends of the right to repair, and in many cases they act accordingly, with designs that make it difficult or even prevent it, as well as unpayable technical service fees, very restrictive policies regarding unofficial repairs, etc. I give an example that I have lived close to recently: the iPad Mini 5 gen. from a nearby person falls to the ground and, with the impact, the glass of the screen breaks. Official price for the repair? €331.10. Unofficial technical service? Around 100.

Europe moves considerably closer to the right to repair

Fortunately, it seems increasingly clear to regulators that this is not the way to go, and that we must return to a situation in which the right to repair is respected and the culture of reparation is reintroduced. Not as an obligation, obviously, but as a normalized option for anyone who wants it. And that’s where they are, although we already know that palace things always go slowly.

The good news is that almost a year after the European Parliament voted yes on the right to repair, andhe draft that has been in the works ever since and has now been completed (you can consult it here) has been voted and approved, in what, despite the enormous complexity of the process of approving regulations within the European Union, should be the final step for the right to repair to become legally established in the old continent.

With it, the European Union requires manufacturers to consider repairability at the design stage of their products, in order to guarantee a longer duration of the same, and that there are more problems that can be solved in the technical services. And I say this in the plural because the proposal also underlines the need to ensure better access for end-users and third-party repair service providers to spare parts and manuals.

Obviously, even when the rule is finally approved, we should not expect the right to repair to be established immediately, because surely a moratorium will be granted that allows companies to adapt the design of their devices to this new standard, not counting that many member states of the union will also have to carry out the transposition of the European standard to their own framework legal. However, it does represent a breakthrough and, therefore, great news for consumers.

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