Why do we talk about the right to repair? Didn’t we always have that as a right?
Chloé Mikolajczak: Excellent question! While it is obviously not illegal for you to repair a product that you own, there is no legal framework to ensure that you can. For instance, you don’t always have the right to obtain the repair instructions, spare parts, or specialised tools that you would need to repair your product. Similarly, our campaign advocates for products that would be repairable by design which would make it so much easier for almost everyone to repair their phones, tablets and other daily used electronic products.
Our right to repair stops where the manufacturer’s right to produce a non-repairable product begins.
How did the campaign around right to repair come about? Whom is it aimed at?
CM: The Right to Repair campaign in Europe started about a year and a half ago when organisations active around the cause of repair saw an unprecedented opportunity at the European level and decided to gather their forces to advocate for what would become the first ever repair “laws” in Europe. They organised a protest outside of the EU institutions with a sad fridge and other broken appliances to bring urgency to policy makers.
In September this year, the campaign was officially created and has now 28 members based in several European countries who represent civil society organisations, repair businesses, community repair initiatives and public institutions.
Because the main goals of the campaign are to make the right to repair mainstream and bring urgency to policy makers both at the EU and the national level, it’s aimed at a fairly varied audience including policy makers but also community repair groups, professional repairers, sustainability activists and more generally any consumer who is frustrated about how often or fast his/her electronics products are failing.
It’s Christmas time, excellent time to think about wishes! What would be your big wish that’d help make right to repair a reality in Europe?
CM: Next year, I would love to see ecodesign include smartphones and laptops, the two most used electronic products. For this, we know we already have the support of citizens and consumers who want their products to last longer and be repairable but we’ll need to make sure any significant progress isn’t watered down by the industry lobbyists who are present in numbers in Brussels.