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EU Votes On Universal Charging Cable

White USB-C charger with EU flag background

 

Following a provisional agreement in June, the European Parliament has voted in favour of a law to ensure that all devices have a single universal charger. 

 

Why?

 

Back in June, the EU Parliament highlighted the following reasons why having a single universal charger is necessary: 

 

– Consumers currently face the inconvenience and costs of needing a different charging device and cable every time they purchase a new device. Having one universal charger for all their small and medium-sized portable electronic devices will lead to more re-usage and help consumers save up to 250 million euros a year on unnecessary charger purchases. 

 

– The need to make products in the EU more sustainable and to reduce electronic waste. For example, disposed-of and unused chargers represent about 11,000 tonnes of e-waste annually. 

 

– The need to harmonise charging speeds for devices that support fast charging, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger.  

 

Vote For A Common Standard: USB Type-C

 

The recent European Parliament vote resulted in 602 votes in favour and 13 against (8 abstaining) for a law to require device makers (phones and tablets) to ensure that a single USB Type-C type charger can be used for all devices by 2024 across the 27-nation bloc of the EU.  

 

Under the new rules, laptop manufacturers will also have to make the same change by 2026. It is expected that EU member states will approve the vote result on 24 October, at which point it will be written into EU law. 

 

What Will It Apply To?

 

The devices that will need to have single USB-C connectors (typically found in Android devices) are mobile phones and digital cameras, tablets and e-readers, mice and keyboards, GPS devices, headphones, headsets and earphones, handheld videogame consoles, and even portable speakers. 

 

Multiple white charging cables on blue background
Apple Lightning to USB-C cable on the white background, macro.

 

What About Apple?

 

Apple, which has its own “Lightning” connector, originally objected to the idea, saying that it “stifles innovation” and would “harm consumers” in Europe and around the world. However, under the new law, when it comes into force, Apple will have to change its charging port for iPhones and other devices and is, therefore, likely to be the manufacturer most affected. 

What About The UK?

 

Since the UK is not in the EU and has said that it is not considering replicating the EU’s idea, a similar UK law is unlikely to be introduced in the near future. However, a parliamentary report from December 2021 stated that “the new requirements may also apply to devices sold in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol in the Brexit Agreement”. 

 

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

 

Having just one type of charger for all devices clearly sounds as though it could save EU consumers an estimated 250 million euros and a lot of hassle managing multiple cables at home or trying to find the right charger quickly, e.g. if a charger has been lost or broken. The EU law will be unwelcome news for those companies which currently manufacture the many diverse types of chargers and for many retailers that currently derive revenue from the many different chargers and cables.

 

For Apple, the EU’s decision also appears likely to cause problems and force the company to devise a potentially costly solution for its many devices. It may also push the company into the uncomfortable area of having to accept a third-party charger instead of its own lightning connector. Many UK consumers are likely to be disappointed that the universal charger will not apply in the UK’s jurisdiction, both from a convenience and an environmental point of view.  

 

iPhone placed on desk with white USB-C charger pointing towards it

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