Spare parts and repairs: obligatory in Europe?

As part of the Green Deal for Europe, which aims to create a climate-neutral Europe by 2050, the European Commission has imposed measures to promote a circular economynew energy labels, ecological design standards, the right to repair, availability of spare parts, etc.

Household appliances and electronics: new rules in Europe

In March 2020, the European Commission published its action plan for a circular economy, which comprises particularly ambitious standards concerning the life cycle of products. To reduce waste and encourage consumers to adopt an environmentally friendly approach, the plan incorporates life cycle labelling, maintenance manuals, an EU wide repairability index and a right to repair, including the availability of spare parts and access to repairs.

Right to repairs from 1 March 2021

Obviously, you are entitled to a two year legal guarantee on consumer goods and services anyway. You can ask the seller to arrange a repair, provide a replacement or, where applicable, a refund. New rules now extend this right to repair.

In November 2020, the European Parliament voted for a ‘right to repair’ to encourage and facilitate repairs to consumer goods. Since 1 March 2021, manufacturers and importers must provide a range of essential parts (motors and brushes, pumps, dampers and springs, washing drums, etc.) to professional repairers for at least 7 to 10 years after the last device of a particular model was traded on the EU market.

Manufacturers must also make spare parts available that are suitable for non-professional repairs by consumers who want to repair their device themselves.

These rules currently only apply to refrigerators, washing machines, tumble driers and dishwashers. In practical terms this implies that:

  • Spare parts for refrigeration equipment (refrigerator, freezer, wine cellar, etc.) must be available for at least 7 years after purchase.
  • Spare parts for washing machines, tumble driers and dishwashers must be available for at least 10 years.
  • Manufacturers must supply spare parts within 15 days.
  • Manufacturers must provide consumers with a list of spare parts available on the internet.
  • Manufacturers must provide documentation which clearly explains what kind of defects could occur, how repairs should be implemented and how much this would cost.
  • Manufacturers must also ensure that spare parts for a device can be replaced using standard tools.

These rules apply throughout the European Union, including Belgium!