The European Commission recently opened a public consultation on the “sustainable consumption of goods – promoting repair and reuse”. The Commission is looking to amend the Sale of Goods Directive and possibly introduce a separate new legislative proposal on the right to repair. The initiative follows the New Consumer Agenda and the Circular Economy Action Plan, which aim to promote repair and more sustainable products. The initiative will encourage consumers to use consumer goods for a longer time by extending the useful life of goods, repairing defective goods, and by purchasing more second-hand and refurbished goods. It will also create synergies with other initiatives, including those on sustainable products, circular electronics, empowering consumers in the green transition, and product specific Ecodesign regulations.

The call for evidence outlines possible policy options, ranging from low to high intervention. The policy options are as follows:

Option 1: low intervention – voluntary commitments:

  • Encourage businesses to commit voluntarily to repairing goods with a significant negative impact on the environment and promote the purchase of second-hand and refurbished goods.

Option 2: moderate intervention:

  • Option 2a: Extend the legal guarantee period: (i) for new goods that consumers choose to repair instead of replacing them; and/or (ii) for second-hand and/or refurbished goods (amendments to the Directive).
  • Option 2b: Make repair the preferred remedy when repair is less expensive than or as expensive as replacement (amendment to the Directive); oblige producers or sellers to repair goods beyond the legal guarantee period for a reasonable price (new right to repair within the Directive or a separate instrument).

Option 3: high intervention:

  • Option 3a: Limit consumers’ choice of remedies by prioritising repair over replacement (amendment to the Directive); Oblige producers or sellers to repair goods beyond the legal guarantee period, in some cases for free (new right to repair within the Directive or a separate instrument).
  • Option 3b: Extend the legal guarantee period beyond the current minimum period of 2 years (amendment to the Directive).
  • Option 3c: Enable the seller to replace defective products with refurbished goods and not new ones (amendment to the Directive).

In addition to the above, the Commission is also welcoming views on the need and design of additional legislative and non-legislative measures to promote sustainable use of goods, which could influence the current relationship between consumers and businesses, with the aim of extending the useful life of goods.

The Commission is asking for feedback on its “call for evidence for an impact assessment” by 5 April 2022. The feedback received will be taken into account as the Commission further develops and fine-tunes the initiative.

Further details on the initiative and the call for evidence is available here.