We protested for better smartphone repair rules today

This morning, @Cristina_Ganapini and I joined other members and supporters the European Right to Repair Campaign in Brussels to gently heckle members of a technical EU committee and bribe them with spanner-shaped chocolate. :chocolate_bar: :wrench: :mega:


National experts met this morning to rubberstamp new EU ecodesign rules for smartphones and tablets. Sadly, these draft rules are fraught with loopholes. In practice, as they stand today, they will not grant a real Right to Repair.

Here’s where they fall short:

No accounting for the price of spare parts :money_with_wings:
The new rules would introduce an EU repair score for smartphones and tablets, similar to the French repairability index. While this sounds good in theory, the proposed rules don’t take into account the cost of spare parts (a flaw shared by the French index). The price of parts is one of the main reasons many people turn away from repair. So how can this new EU repair score actually indicate what’s more repairable without taking this into account?

Part-pairing can still prevent repair :closed_lock_with_key:
Through this software technique, components of a device are linked through serial numbers and manufacturers have to grant users access to these numbers to perform a repair or “re-pair” these components themselves. This is a threat to making products more repairable. Learn more about part-pairing here. Yet these proposed rules do nothing to prevent this anti-repair practice.

Spare parts not available to all :package:
Under the new rules, a range of spare parts will become accessible for professional repairers. Good. BUT very few parts will be made available to end-users and community repair groups like us. We should all have the right to get the parts we need to fix the stuff we own!

Inconsistent and limited duration :alarm_clock:
The current draft rules are inconsistent. Although we could get access to repair information for 7 years, other requirements like spare parts or software updates will be available for a shorter time span. We must have access to what we need to repair our device for 7 years.

We wanted to show members of the ecodesign and energy labelling regulatory committee that all of us in the wider repair community want them to do better. So as they showed up to vote, we greeted them with encouraging chants, chocolate tools and a list of key asks for the new rules they are helping to design.

We’re still waiting to hear the outcome of this morning’s meeting. But in the meantime, head over to the Campaign’s website for more about these new rules:


Thanks for the update @james

Well done to you and the rest of the team for being there.

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An update on this. The European Right to Repair Campaign :r2r: has now learned more about what happened in this meeting. In short, it’s a mixed bag and we were hoping for better.

Here’s the good news:

The committee did rubber-stamp new rules for phones and tablets that should improve their repairability and reliability:

  • Manufacturers would need to provide access to repair information :orange_book: and spare parts :battery: to professional repairers and end-users for at least 7 years after retiring a product from the market (this is more than the 5 years in the original text!)
  • Software updates :calling: would also have to be made available for at least 5 years after retiring a product from the market.
  • Smartphones would have to survive at least 45 accidental drops :boom: before losing functionality and retain at least 80% of a battery’s capacity :low_battery: after 800 charging cycles.

But the bad news is that there are still some major limitations and missed opportunities :frustratedfix:

  • Manufacturers would only have to provide indicative pre-tax prices for spare parts, meaning that they will still be able to digress from what they advertise upon sale. This means they could effectively set the cost of parts so high as to make repair impractical for many :money_mouth_face:
  • The rules would do nothing to prohibit (or even discourage) part-pairing :closed_lock_with_key: - this loophole could allow manufacturers to effectively block 3rd-party repair
  • Only 15 types of spare parts would be made available to professional repairers and only 5 types to end-users and community repairers (if manufacturers reach certain battery durability requirements, this would also exclude batteries!)

What’s next?
None of this is law yet. The committee still needs to agree on rules for an EU repair index for phones and tablets in December. The hope is that the index will take the price of spare parts into account (but we’ll see).

Once the final text has been agreed, translated and made available to the European Parliament and Council of the EU for three months, those two bodies will validate or reject it. If they validate it, the rules will enter force, probably in the first half of 2023 (for most measures).

For much more detail on all of this, read the Campaign’s official response here:


Il y a encore du chemin à parcourir. Ne baissons pas la garde. Continuons la veille, le plaidoyer et nos actions tels des fruits vont tenir la promesse des fleurs un beau jour.


I’ve thought about the issue of cost of parts for a long time. Indeed I was looking at the cost of a few spare parts for my central heating boiler in the last few days and every one of them is over half the price of the boiler.

Perhaps there should be a principle that building a product from spare parts should cost no more than, say, 2 or 3 times the cost of the new product. This could still be abused a bit, e.g. making parts that never fail almost free and parts that fail often most of the price limit.

Thanks for sharing Andrew - that boiler repair sounds frustrating! Agreed that there needs to be some way to limit the cost of parts - or at the very least, to advertise the range of prices transparently before buying the product. I just hope they do end up including the price of spare parts in the upcoming repair score. At least that could provide some incentive for manufacturers to set more reasonable prices.