07 Aug 2017

Views on suggestions to include the concept of “expected lifespan” in the proposed Tangible Goods Directive

Views on suggestions to include the concept of “expected lifespan” in the proposed Tangible Goods Directive

INTRODUCTION

The European Commission published in December 2015 a package of legislative proposals aimed at boosting eCommerce in Europe. Part of this package is the proposed Directive on contract rules for the online and other distance sales of goods (hereafter referred to in this paper as Tangible Goods Directive or TGD).

Members of both the IMCO and JURI Committees have suggested various amendments to the proposed TGD related to the concept of the ‘expected lifespan’ of goods. Here are some notable examples:

1. ‘Durability’ to be a requirement for conformity of the good (IMCO draft report amendments 140, 14, 244, 245, 257, 258, 259 – JURI draft report amendments 84, 107, 149)

2. Trader should inform consumer about a good’s expected lifespan (IMCO draft report amendments 150, 192 – JURI draft report amendments 84, 107, 199)

3. Legal protection period to equal expected lifespan (IMCO draft report amendments 150, 184, 360, 361, 362 – JURI draft report amendments 7, 23, 33)

4. Burden of proof to stay with trader for the duration of expected lifespan (IMCO draft report amendments 280, 281)

5. Manufacturers obliged to give commercial guarantee equal to expected lifespan of good (IMCO draft report amendments 192, 384, 385, 386, 387, 388, 108, 198)

6. Manufacturers obliged to inform consumers about the availability of spare parts (IMCO draft report amendments 150, 151, 393, 394 – JURI draft report amendments 201)

It should be noted that the concept of expected lifespan was not included in the Commission’s proposal for the Directive: in fact recital 23 explicitly stated that this Directive is not the appropriate instrument to introduce rules related to the durability of goods, and that product-specific legislation would be the right place to encourage longer durability of consumer goods and sustainable consumption – two concepts which are presumably behind the wish to see expected lifespan provisions included in the TGD.

DIGITALEUROPE strongly disagrees with suggestions to include any expected lifespan related amendments in the TGD. As we explain in the following sections of this paper, we believe that such provisions would have serious consequences for manufacturers, traders, innovation, competition, and – ultimately – consumers.

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