European Union officials said they signed a preliminary agreement on Tuesday requiring a unified charging cord across the 27-nation bloc.
It was part of a wider effort to make products sold in the EU more sustainable, reduce electronic waste and eliminate “cable clutter”, said European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager.
“European consumers were frustrated with multiple chargers piling up in their homes,” said Alex Agius Saliba, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator, at a press conference in Brussels.
“Now they can go with one charger for all portable electronics, which is an important step in increasing consumer convenience.”
According to the legislation, “mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earphones, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, portable video game consoles and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable must be equipped with a USB port. Type-C port, regardless of their manufacture.”
The upcoming rules will apply to new small and medium-sized electronics sold in the EU.
While the rules only apply to devices sold in the European single market, like the EU’s strict privacy regulations, they could eventually become a de facto standard for the rest of the world.
Chargers that support fast charging should also maintain the same charging speeds. The measure will not affect wireless charging technologies.
Consumers should be able to purchase a device without the included charger if they wish, which EU estimates will save consumers €250 million ($371 million) a year.
“One in three chargers that come with these products are never opened from the original packaging,” said Saliba, according to the European Commission’s impact assessment.
The new rule will bring major changes for iPhone users.
A 2021 study cited in the same report found that iPhones with the Lightning connector accounted for 18 percent of new cell phone sales in 2019, with 44 percent using USB-C and 38 percent using the older USB Micro-B. connector.
But Tuesday’s announcement could accelerate Apple’s move to USB-C and potentially cause the company to drop Lightning around the world for good.
Attempts to impose a single charging standard in Europe date back more than a decade. Officials had gained industry support for the USB Micro-B standard at one point, but a voluntary agreement between major manufacturers on it expired in 2014 and was not replaced. In contrast, the upcoming law requiring USB-C is one of the first of its kind.
Tuesday’s announcement followed trilateral negotiations by the European Commission, Parliament and Council. The levy measure has yet to be finalized before it takes effect, but the process is largely seen as a mere formality.
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