USB-C: European Parliament decides on standard charging cable

On Tuesday, the EU parliament passed a resolution that prescribes a standard charging cable for electronic devices. Smartphones, tablets, speakers and other categories of devices should have a USB-C connection in the future.

After a long struggle, the unified charging socket has now cleared its last hurdle in the EU. Now only the Member States have to agree to the final decision. After negotiators from the EU countries were able to reach an agreement with the EU parliament in the summer, this is considered a formality. Final approval should be given on October 24 and the regulation should be put into practice from autumn 2024.

The decision makes USB-C ports mandatory for mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones, headsets, mobile game consoles, portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, computer mice, portable navigation systems and the charging cases for in-ear headphones. A little later, probably in 2026, USB-C connections will also become mandatory for laptops.

According to the EU Parliament, a uniform charging cable should reduce electronic waste. According to the EU commission, charging cables generate about 11,000 tons of electronic waste every year, of which the USB-C regulation could save nearly 1000 tons. In addition, power packs can be used to charge batteries on various devices. In addition, the uniform charging cable must prevent fragmentation of the market. Future categories of electronic devices should therefore also be powered via a USB-C connection if possible.

Most major manufacturers have been selling their devices almost exclusively with USB-C connections for years. The only notable exception is the manufacturer Apple, which uses its own Lightning connector in all its iPhones. In any case, a change has already taken place with the newer iPads; for example, the iPad Air and iPad Pro use USB-C. In the past, Apple had described EU pressure as hostile to innovation.

Industry association Bitkom also criticizes: “The political commitment to a technical standard will mainly slow down innovations and goes against the important principle of openness to technology,” said Bitkom boss Bernhard Rohleder in the run-up to the decision of the EU parliament. . “Innovations such as loading times or data transmission are politically thwarted – to the detriment of the consumer.” In particular, the decision hinders the further development of wireless standards such as Qi.

The EU decision also stipulates that in future a symbol on the packaging must indicate whether or not devices are supplied with a power pack. An online survey by the market research institute Ipsos in 2021 found that 75 percent of the 5,010 Europeans surveyed thought having a charger was “very” or “fairly” important. Several manufacturers are waiving the inclusion of a power supply in their current devices. The EU has been negotiating with industry representatives on a standard charging cable for mobile phones and other consumer equipment since 2009. Since then, USB-C has largely prevailed over older USB models such as USB micro.

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