Single charger for electronic devices in Europe

End of incompatible chargers cluttering trays? According to the agreement reached on Tuesday between member states and members of the European Parliament, from 2024 the European Union will impose a universal wired charger for smartphones, tablets, consoles and digital cameras, to the chagrin of Apple, which opposed it.

By the fall of 2024, a series of rechargeable devices appeared – mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, headphones, digital cameras, portable video game consoles, portable speakers, etc. It must have a USB-C port to be sold in the EU, regardless of the manufacturer.

Laptops will be subject to the same requirements for a single charger by the spring of 2026. The political agreement reached on Tuesday after lengthy negotiations will be formally approved after the summer by the European Parliament and the Council, the body representing member states.

The text also paves the way for the future standardization of wireless charging technologies, which are currently in full swing.

Parliament explains: “Consumers will no longer need a different charger and cable every time they buy a new device, and will be able to use one charger for all their small and medium-sized electronic devices,” eliminating unnecessary accessories.

The text provides for harmonizing the charging speed of devices that allow fast charging, so that it is not restricted when using a charger of a different brand. Labels will be improved to better inform consumers, who will be able to purchase a device with or without a charger.

The regulation could save European consumers – who spend €2.4 billion ($3.2 billion) a year on shipper purchases alone – at least €250 million ($335 million) a year, according to the European Commission. Unused magazine waste estimated at 11,000 tons per year can be reduced by about 1,000 tons.

“pent-up” innovation?

This project was launched in 2009 by the Commission, but has faced resistance from the industry for a long time.

However, the number of types of chargers has decreased significantly over the years. From about thirty in 2009, they moved to three: the Micro USB connector, which has long been installed on the majority of phones; USB-C, a newer connection; and Lightning charging technology from Apple.

The California group, which claims that Lightning supplies more than a billion devices worldwide, has consistently voiced its opposition, believing that the European text would “stifle innovation”, and cut off the EU – subject to selection of “outdated” standards – from the rest of the world.

By canceling some chargers and smartphones in circulation, Apple said on Tuesday, “Brussels will impose significant losses on manufacturers, reduce consumer choice and generate additional electronic waste.”

“Let’s be clear: If Apple wants to market its products [en Europe]We’ll have to respect our rules […] Inland Market Commissioner Thierry Breton replied, You have to think about the environment.

“Preparing for the future”

“While charging systems trap consumers in a brand and force us to bundle cables at the expense of our wallets and natural resources, this is a stopping point for the most rebellious,” says MEP David Cormand (Greens).

His counterpart Geoffroy Didier (EPP, right) salutes the EU’s “voluntarism” in the face of “improper waste dictated by the commercial interests of a few industrial groups”.

The ANEC Association, which defends consumer rights in issues related to technological standards, welcomed the “agreement” that “simplifies the forest of choices hitherto imposed on consumers”.

ANEC regretted that the initial project did not relate to wireless charging systems, but the final agreement includes provisions to define a common standard in this place, which is about to become the majority in the next few years.

Adopted text “The future is […] So that legislation is not adopted on technology that is already disappearing,” confirmed Representative Alex Agios Saliba (S&D, Social Democrats), text rapporteur.

Thus, with the spread of wireless technology, the Commission will therefore have the power to make “delegated laws on the interoperability of charging solutions”, i.e. regulations that can be applied directly without being subject to a vote in the Council or the European Parliament.

Let’s see in the video

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