Two years after the European Commission passed laws enabling the right-to-repair appliances, it’s now looking to move forward with right-to-repair laws for smartphones, Vice reports.
A recent statement from the European Union details what the new legislation would hone in on, including new initiatives that would apply to smartphones: “The new Action Plan announces initiatives for the entire life cycle of products, from design and manufacturing to consumption, repair, reuse, recycling, and bringing resources back into the economy.”
The proposed legislation would also tie into the European Green Deal, and would focus on sustaining a cleaner environment: “Half of total greenhouse gas emissions come from resource extraction and processing. It is not possible to achieve the climate-neutrality target by 2050 without transitioning to a fully circular economy…The aim of the Action Plan is to reduce the EU’s consumption footprint and double the EU’s circular material use rate in the coming decade, while boosting economic growth.”
Those in support of right-to-repair legislation for smartphones want the European Union to make smartphones part of its “eco-design directive;” this will enable the European Union to regulate the design and repairability of those devices.
According to Vice, the European Union is a few years behind on this type of legislation; back in 2015, the European Commission conducted a study to determine which items should be included in its eco-design directives. While large appliances like washing machines and refrigerators made the cut, smaller devices were overlooked. A network of people in support of environmental legislation in Europe conducted a similar study and argued that smartphones should be included, and were one of the most important items.
However, some in the political field said that European policy makers claimed smartphones were “innovating too quickly,” and that “the policy cycle couldn’t keep up with it.” Others said that politicians didn’t want to touch smartphones so as to not ruffle any feathers with big tech companies. Putting smartphones on the docket for consideration this time around will up the chances that it will be incorporated in legislation.
Even if smartphones are top of mind, there’s no guarantee they will stay there indefinitely. Janet Gunter, co-founder of The Restart Project, says the true test will be if the European Commission can stand up to large tech companies who have traditionally influenced politics. “This is a symbolic but potentially transformative moment in policy terms. But we’re not naive. We know we’re going to have to be there at every turn,” she told Vice.