EU proposes new rules to repair defective products.
The Malta Business Bureau has organised an information and consultation session with businesses on the EU’s proposal for a ‘Right to Repair’ Directive. The proposal aims to promote the repair of products instead of replacement. As a result, this promises to reduce waste and increase the circularity of products.
If the new rules are approved, repair service providers will be obliged to provide Repair Information Forms to customers upon their request. These forms shall include details such as the nature of the repair, a price range, duration, and other conditions. Crucially, this form cannot be amended within a 30-day period. The European Commission claims that such information will increase the transparency of repair services and grant consumers more choices.
MBB EU Policy Manager on Sustainability, Gabriel Cassar provided an overview of the proposals’ main elements and what they mean for businesses in practice. This includes changes to the way businesses must make a ‘repair versus replacement’ decision when presented with defective goods, both within and outside the legal guarantee period.
EU data shows that millions of tonnes of viable products are prematurely discarded each year, resulting in wasted money, resources, and significant greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal consequently puts forward several points to facilitate the repair of consumer products. This includes a significant change to the way producers and sellers must handle claims on defective products within the guarantee period. In cases where the cost to replace that defective product is greater than the cost of repair, sellers shall always be obliged to repair that product.
Unless repair is technically impossible, producers or sellers will also be required to repair specific types of products outside the guarantee period for free or at a cost. This includes certain household appliances, electronic displays, mobile phones and tablets, data storage products, among others. In cases where producers are located outside the EU, these obligations will fall on the importer or distributor who has placed the product on the EU market. To facilitate their repair and strengthen consumer choice, producers should also provide independent repair shops with access to tools, information, and parts to repair their products.
The Malta Chamber Policy Executive (Sustainability) Gabby Grech Larsson delivered the organisation’s perspective on the proposal, seeing it as a key way to reduce product waste and contribute towards the circular economy in Malta. Ms. Grech Larsson also highlighted The Malta Chamber’s extensive work on sustainability issues through several committees and initiatives.
Officials from the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA) addressed the webinar to share their perspective on this file and especially the points which are of priority for the Authority. Director General within the Office for Consumer Affairs Grace Stivala, and Senior Manager EU/International Affairs Andre Sghendo addressed questions and concerns raised by participants. Some of the most salient points raised by participants centred around the need to ensure adequate technical capabilities among repairers, the enforcement of the legal guarantee period, and the repair obligation placed on producers.
The proposal for a Right to Repair Directive is seen as a key file in the EU’s circular economy agenda. The MBB has been working closely with national and EU policymakers to put forward the views and concerns of Maltese businesses. Those interested in further information are encouraged to contact the MBB EU policy team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Malta Business Bureau is the EU business advisory organisation of The Malta Chamber and The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. It is also a partner of the Enterprise Europe Network.