BRUSSELS — The European Union Thursday proposed a common charger for phones and smaller electronic devices saying it is an important step against e-waste and consumer inconvenience.
The charging port and fast charging technology will be harmonized: USB-C will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld videogame consoles, said the European Commission in a press release.
EU Commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, presenting the proposal in a press conference in Brussels Thursday said: „Chargers power all our most essential electronic devices. With more and more devices, more and more chargers are sold that are not interchangeable or not necessary.“
„We are putting an end to that. With our proposal, European consumers will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics, an important step to increase convenience and reduce waste,“ he said.
In 2020, approximately 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in the EU. On average, consumers own around three mobile phone chargers, of which they use two on a regular basis, noted the press release.
Thursday’s proposal will now need to be adopted by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers. There will be a transition period of 24 months from the date of adoption to give industry ample time to adapt before the entry into application.
The EU’s action of imposition of a universal charger for smartphones is sue to set up a clash with Apple and its widely used iPhone connector cable.
The European Commission believes a standard cable for all devices will cut back on electronic waste, but Apple says a one-size fits all charger will stop innovation and create more pollution.
The EU is a massive market of 450 million people, and the imposition of the USB-C as a cable standard could have a decisive effect on the global smartphone market.
„European consumers have been frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers,“ said EU executive vice president Margrethe Vestager in a statement.
„We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger,“ she said.
Consumers currently have to decide between three main chargers to power their phones: Lightning ones for Apple handsets, micro-USB ones widely used on most other mobile phones, and USB-C ones that are increasingly being used.
The EU said the current situation remained „inconvenient“ and that European consumers spent approximately 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion) annually on standalone chargers that do not come with their electronic devices.
Apple, which already uses USB-C connectors on some of its iPads and laptop computers, insists legislation to force a universal charger for all mobiles in the European Union is unwarranted.