MEPs vote for easier phone repairs, potentially ending big tech's mending monopoly

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By Christopher Pitchers  & Aida Sanchez
MEPs vote for easier phone repairs, potentially ending big tech's mending monopoly
Copyright  Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The European Parliament voted Wednesday to facilitate the repair of electronic devices outside of the company they are purchased from, in a major blow to big tech.

MEPs have recommended to the Commission that they propose regulations to give consumers the right to repair their electronic devices outside of the company they buy them from without devaluing the product.

If a customer chooses to repair a damaged phone with a cheaper non-official business, then the value decreases if the customer wants to trade-in the device to the official company, for example.

European lawmakers want to put an end to this, in order to save citizens money and also as part of the bloc's green strategy to avoid product waste.

According to a recent Eurobarometer study, 8 in 10 Europeans believe that manufacturers should be obliged to make repairs easier.

And the Parliament seemed to recognise this, after approving the reports' recommendations with a sizeable majority.

Chloé Mikolajczak, a campaigner for Right to Repair Europe, told Euronews that this is a step in the right direction.

"Despite the political divisions, because there is a clear political division on this issue between conservatives and the progressives, we are seeing that the European Parliament is finally upholding its reputation as a defender of consumers’ rights and environmental issues," Mikolajczak said.

The report says that companies must label products with their estimated lifespan, as well as how to repair them, since companies like Apple don't tell non-affiliated stores how to restore devices.

MEPs also voted to put an end to what they call "premature obsolescence," where the life expectancy of a device is deliberately shortened.

But the report is only advisory, so the ball is now in the Commission's court who will have to come up with appropriate proposals.