The European Parliament and Council are about to adopt an agreed text on a Regulation on Batteries and Waste Batteries (“Sustainable Batteries Regulation” or “SBR”) that will impose a broad range of requirements on the safety, sustainability and circularity of batteries, including batteries that are part of devices (e.g., laptop batteries), industrial batteries (e.g., large stationary storage applications) and means of transport batteries (e.g., car batteries), as well as extended producer responsibility obligations (including waste take back) on producers marketing them. The SBR is likely to be published in the official journal of the EU within the next couple of months and will repeal and replace the existing EU Directive on Batteries and Waste Batteries.
This post outlines the specific removability and replaceability requirements that the SBR will impose on portable batteries and light means of transport (“LMT”) batteries (e.g., batteries for electric bicycles) marketed in the EU/EEA as of around September/October 2026. The new requirements will oblige producers of appliances to introduce design changes to their appliances and the batteries they incorporate. Moreover, clarifying the details of such requirements is likely to create much controversy and debate among the European Commission, Member States and other stakeholders within the next two years. In effect, the SBR leaves it to the Commission to adopt guidelines interpreting the different removability and replaceability requirements.
The post also briefly mentions the political compromise that the European Parliament and Council reached on the removability and replaceability of electrical vehicle batteries and “starting, lighting and ignition” (“SLI”) batteries, and its emphasis on ensuring that such batteries be removable and replaceable by “independent professionals” (and not just authorized dealers).
Removability and Replaceability Requirements for Portable Batteries and LMT Batteries
While we expect that the EU legal linguistic experts will have to introduce some edits, Article 11 of the SBR imposes different removability and replaceability requirements for portable batteries than for LMT batteries. In turn, it would exempt from the removability and replaceability requirements portable batteries where continuity of power supply is necessary and a permanent connection between the device and the portable battery is required to ensure the safety of the user and the appliance, or for products that collect and supply data as their main function, if this is necessary for “data integrity reasons.”
The SBR defines portable batteries as any battery that is sealed, weighs below or equal to 5 kg, is not designed specifically for industrial uses, and is not an electric vehicle, LMT or SLI battery. As from 42 months after the entry into force of the SBR, producers marketing devices incorporating such portable batteries must ensure that the batteries are “readily removable and replaceable” by the “end user” at any time during the lifetime of the device. Thus, the general rule for portable batteries is that it must be possible for the end user, and not a qualified professional, to remove and replace the batteries “at any time during the lifetime of the product.” This wording also suggests that the Commission and Member States could take the position that portable batteries should be removable from appliances and replaceable “at any time” even if the appliance has a shorter life than that of the batteries.
Article 11(1) of the SBR also clarifies that a portable battery is “readily removable” by an end user, if it can be removed “with the use of commercially available tools” without requiring the use of: “specialized tools” unless they are provided free of charge with the product, “proprietary tools,” “thermal energy” or “solvents.” A recital of the SBR also explains that “commercially available tools are tools available on the market to all end users without the need for them to provide evidence of proprietary rights and that can be used with no restriction, except for health and safety reasons.”
Producers marketing electronic devices incorporating portable batteries will also be required to ensure that their devices are accompanied by instructions and safety information on the use, removal and replacement of the batteries. The instructions and safety information must be posted online in a publicly available website in a manner that is easily understandable for end users.
Article 11 establishes two exceptions to the general rule that portable batteries must be removable and replaceable by end users. Devices incorporating portable batteries may be designed in such way as to make their batteries removable and replaceable only by “independent professionals” if they are:
1. specifically designed to operate primarily in an environment that is regularly subject to splashing water, water streams or water immersion and that are intended to be washable or rinseable.
Article 11(2) adds that this derogation is only applicable where removability and replaceability by an independent professional is necessary to ensure the safety of the user and the appliance. A recital of the SBR further tightens the derogation, stating that it “should only apply when it is not possible, by way of redesign of the appliance, to ensure the safety of the end user and the safe continued use of the appliance after the end user has correctly followed the instructions to remove and replace the battery” (emphasis added). Arguably, the Commission will have to refer to socio-economic and technical feasibility considerations when adopting guidance defining the scope of what is “not possible.”
The same recital also suggests that a device is designed to “operate primarily” in a water environment if it is “specifically designed to be used, for a majority of the active service of the appliance” in a water environment.
2. professional medical imaging and radioactive devices.
Article 11 also empowers the European Commission to introduce additional derogations for other types of devices whose portable batteries may only be removable and replaceable by independent professionals, instead of end users. However, the Commission may do so only if the additional derogation is necessary to take into account technical and market developments and there are scientifically grounded concerns over the safety of end users removing or replacing the portable batteries, or such removability or replaceability by end users risks being in violation of other EU product safety rules.
The SBR does not define “independent professionals.” However, such category of professionals also includes those that are not dealers authorized by the manufacturers of the devices. The Commission’s guidelines may have to provide criteria on the qualifications that such professionals must meet in order to ensure the safety of end users and the devices.
The SBR defines LMT batteries as those that are sealed and weigh below or equal to 25 kg, are designed to provide electric power for the traction to wheeled vehicles that can be powered by an electric motor alone or by combination of motor and human power, including type-approved vehicles of category L under Regulation 168/2013, and are not electric vehicle batteries (e.g., batteries for electric bicycles). As from 42 months from the entry into force of the Regulation, producers marketing devices incorporating LMT batteries in the EU/EEA must ensure that the batteries are readily removable and replaceable “at any time during the lifetime” of the device.
However, in contrast with the requirements for portable batteries, the LMT must be removable and replaceable by “independent professionals,” and not end users. Moreover, in the case of LMT batteries, the removability and replaceability requirements also apply to the battery cells included in the battery pack.
At the last moment of the EU’s legislative negotiations, the European Parliament and Council introduced a confusing second subparagraph to Article 11(5) that seems intended to define the “replaceability” requirements for both portable batteries and LMT batteries. This is despite the fact that the first subparagraph of Article 11(5) regulates the removability and replaceability of only LMT by professional users.
In particular, as currently drafted, the second subparagraph of Article 11(5) states that a portable and LMT battery is “readily replaceable” if after its removal from an appliance or light means of transport, “it can be substituted by a similar battery, without affecting the functioning or the performance or safety of that appliance or light mean of transport.” While unclear, the Commission and Member State authorities could take the view that the obligation to ensure that the battery can be substituted by a “similar” battery, “without affecting the functioning or the performance of the appliance or light mean of transport” also applies when an end user, and not only an independent professional, removes and replaces the portable battery from the device. This view could be supported by the fact that the subparagraph also contains a requirement on producers to ensure that portable and LMT “batteries be available as spare parts of the equipment they power for a minimum of five years after placing the last unit of the model on the market, with a reasonable and non-discriminatory price for independent professionals and end users” (emphasis added).
The guidelines that the Commission is expected to adopt, will also have to clarify this second subparagraph of Article 11(5). Among other things, we anticipate that the guidelines will have to take into account the Sale of Goods Directive when interpreting the subarapgraph’s removability requirements. In any event, the use of the term “similar” suggests that producers must ensure that portable and LMT batteries in appliances can be replaced by batteries that are not identical, and therefore arguably can also be competing batteries, as long as they do not affect the performance or safety of the appliance.
It is also possible that this subparagraph to Article 11(5) may be slightly edited (e.g., it may be converted into a separate paragraph) before the SBR is published.
Removability and Replaceability Requirements for Electric Vehicle Batteries and SLI Batteries
In the end, the European Parliament and Council decided to drop the specific removability and replaceability requirements for automotive batteries, industrial batteries and electric vehicle batteries that the European Parliament had proposed. Instead, a recital to the SBR states that “SLI batteries and electric vehicle batteries incorporated in motor vehicles should be removable and replaceable by independent operators.” The same recital adds that for the purpose of the design, manufacturing and the repair of SLI batteries and electric vehicle batteries, “manufacturers should provide the relevant vehicle on-board diagnostic information and vehicle repair and maintenance information on a non-discriminatory basis to any interested manufacturer, installer or repairer of equipment for [category M, N, and O] vehicles.” The SBR defines a SLI battery as a battery “designed to supply electric power for starter, lighting, or ignition and [that] may also be used for auxiliary or backup purposes in vehicles, other means of transport or machinery.”
Thus, the recital calls for an opening up of the market of SLI and electric vehicle batteries. This is in line with the obligations that the Regulation on the Type Approval of Vehicles imposes on vehicle manufactures to provide independent operators with OBD information and vehicle repair and maintenance information. However, it is unclear how this will work in practice taking into account the warranty terms of electric vehicle manufacturers.
The recital also indicates the willingness of the Council and Parliament that a future amendment of the End of Life Vehicles Directive include provision on joining, fastening and sealing elements to ensure that the SLI batteries and electric vehicle batteries can be removed, replaced and disassembled.
The SBR’s new removability and replaceability requirements will apply to portable and LTM batteries and devices and means of transport containing them that are marketed as of (around) the second half of 2026. Nevertheless, businesses and their trade associations should already assess the impact of the new requirements on their products and batteries. They should also try to contribute to the Commission’s adopting of interpretative guidelines and the possible introduction of additional exceptions to the obligation to ensure that portable batteries be readily removable and replaceable by end users. We expect that during the next two years the Commission will hold one or more public consultations before issuing the guidelines and exceptions.