European Parliament: Unified charging cable is coming |

Status: 04.10.2022 15:01

No more cable clutter – instead a uniform charging cable: this has been decided by the EU Parliament. Mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU must have a USB-C connector by the end of 2024.

After years of discussions, the EU Parliament has now approved the introduction of uniform charging cables for mobile phones, tablets and cameras from 2024. A corresponding regulation was adopted today.

This should ensure that a large number of small electronic devices can be charged with the same cable, thereby relieving the consumer and the environment. According to the European Commission, charging cables for mobile phones were responsible for about 11,000 tons of electronic waste in 2018. The standardization of charging plugs “will help reduce more than 1,000 tonnes of waste in the EU per year,” said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

USB-C connection becomes standard

In addition to mobile phones, many other devices are now also covered by the new rules. These include tablets, digital cameras, headphones, speakers, e-readers, keyboards and mice. In particular, the USB-C port is set to become the default charging port used by Android-based devices. This means that in addition to Apple, Samsung, Huawei and other device manufacturers will also be affected, analysts said.

According to information from the EU Parliament, the new directives should save consumers in the EU 250 million euros per year by avoiding unnecessary purchases of chargers.

Apple had criticized previous plans

The European Commission launched a similar initiative more than a decade ago after users of iPhones and other mobile phones complained about the need for different charging cables and the associated so-called cable spaghetti. However, plans for changes have been held back by complaints from iPhone and Android users.

At that time, 14 manufacturers – including Apple – have agreed in a voluntary commitment a uniform standard for mobile phone power supplies. When it comes to the power outlets in smartphones and tablet computers, there are still three of what used to be a few dozen types: USB-C, Apple’s Lightning connector, and micro-USB.

Apple, in particular, has criticized plans for a unified charging cable and is now likely to be the most affected by the move, as the US company will be forced to change its charging connector for iPhones and other devices. But analysts also expect a potential positive impact, as it could encourage buyers to buy the latest Apple devices rather than ones without a USB-C port.

Wireless charging

The Chair of the Internal Market Committee in the EU Parliament, Anna Cavazzini (Greens), stressed that the law can be easily updated with technical progress. The focus is mainly on wireless charging, which is possible with more and more smartphones. It still works at lower performance and data transfer rates than USB-C.

Wireless charging “is becoming more and more popular,” the digital association Bitkom said – the introduction of USB-C as a standard will “especially slow down innovations,” the industry association criticized.

CDU warns against ‘false expectations’

CDU member Andreas Schwab warned against “false expectations”. Although USB-C will be the standard from 2024, “it will take significantly longer for all devices already manufactured to sell out”. Only then would the consumer be able to switch completely.

In a final step, the EU countries must reach an agreement, which is scheduled for October 24. But this is considered a formality.

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