The European Union has ordered Apple to offer a two-year extended warranty, in accordance with EU consumer protection laws. In December the Italian government fined Apple $1.2 million for charging for their AppleCare warranty, which overlapped with the warranty protection Apple was obligated to offer consumers under EU law.
According to Dutch site De Standaard (Google Translation), Apple has updated its warranty policy to match EU laws. The warranty covers defects in products sold in Apple’s stores, whether they are made by Apple or not, and Apple products sold anywhere.
The warranty coverage varies somewhat from country to country, due to the fact that each nation has its own consumer protection laws. The basic details, though, are the same. The legally-mandated warranty covers defects present in the products at the time of purchase. This differs slightly from the one year warranty that all Apple products already came with, and from the AppleCare protection plan. Both cover defects that arise after the time of purchase, and allow customers to contact Apple for phone support. The big difference, then, is the burden of proof: to make a claim under the EU-mandated warranty, the consumer has to show that the problem was present at the time of purchase. Here’s the policy in the UK, from Apple’s UK website:
The EU-mandated warranty coverage appears to be a little less robust than either the standard Apple warranty or the AppleCare, so it doesn’t look like any coverage is actually being added to either warranty. Nevertheless, the statutory coverage does provide a little bit more of a safety net for European consumers whose Apple products start having problems after their warranty runs out.