A European Commission plan calls for right-to-repair measures to be introduced by 2021. | Poravute Siriphiroon/Shutterstock

European lawmakers this week committed to enshrine greater device repairability in law, with their adoption of a Circular Economy Action Plan.

The European Commission, the governing arm of the European Union, on March 11 adopted the action plan. The body described the plan as “one of the main building blocks of the European Green Deal,” a wide-ranging roadmap toward “sustainable growth.”

Product repairability, including right-to-repair initiatives for electronics, play a key role in the plan. According to the plan text, the Commission “will work towards establishing a new ‘right to repair’ and consider new horizontal material rights for consumers for instance as regards availability of spare parts or access to repair and, in the case of [information and communications technology] and electronics, to upgrading services.”

The plan will specifically target electronics as a priority sector for implementing right-to-repair tenets, according to the plan, “including a right to update obsolete software.” Further regulatory measures will improve durability and ensure commonality of peripheral products such as chargers. Additional regulations will also improve collection and treatment of end-of-life electronics, including consideration of an European Union-wide take-back program for various devices and reward systems to incentivize returns.

The plan calls for right-to-repair measures to be introduced by 2021. It calls for the development of the other electronics initiatives throughout 2020 and 2021.

Additionally, the Commission will propose changes to EU law to “ensure that consumers receive trustworthy and relevant information on products at the point of sale, including on their lifespan and on the availability of repair services, spare parts and repair manuals.”

“We want to make sure that products placed on [the] EU market are designed to last longer, to be easier to repair and upgrade, easier to recycle and easier to reuse,” said Virginijus Sinkevičius, a commissioner for the European Commission, in a statement.

Under the new plan, “consumers will be better protected, with a genuine right to repair,” Sinkevičius added. “This will be a game changer for consumers that currently have no other real option but to throw away dysfunctional products.”

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