EU agrees on single port for electronic charging devices

Move aims to increase consumer convenience and boost sustainable products

EU agrees on single charging port for electronic devices

EU agrees on single charging port for electronic devices
Powered by automated translation

The European Union on Tuesday signed a provisional agreement that mandates a uniform charging cord for smartphones and other devices across the 27-nation bloc.

The move is part of a wider effort to make products sold in the EU more sustainable and cut down on electronic waste.

The new rules will take effect in autumn 2024 and mean EU consumers will only need to use a common USB Type-C cable for small and medium-sized chargeable, portable electronic devices.

“European consumers were frustrated with multiple chargers piling up within their homes,” Alex Agius Saliba, the European Parliament’s lead negotiator, said at a press briefing in Brussels.

“Now, they will be able to go with a single charger for all portable electronics, which is an important step to increase consumer convenience."

Devices covered include mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, hand-held video game consoles, keyboards and mice, portable speakers and navigation devices. Laptops also are covered but manufacturers will have extra time to comply.

The change will only be applicable to devices sold in the European single market, which consists of 30 countries. However, like the EU’s strict privacy regulations, they could end up becoming a de facto standard for the rest of the world.

While many electronics companies have started building USB-C sockets into their devices, Apple has to date resisted.

The iPhone maker did not respond to an AP request for comment but has previously expressed concern that a single port mandate would limit innovation and hurt consumers.

The company’s iPhone come with its own lightning charging port, though newer models include cables that can be plugged into a USB-C socket.

The EU rules also outline standards for fast-charging technology and give consumers the right to choose whether to buy new devices with or without a charger, which the EU estimates will save consumers €250 million ($266m) a year.

Reducing electronic waste is another goal. The EU estimates disposed or unused chargers account for 11,000 tonnes of e-waste in Europe every year.

Mr Saliba said that, according to the European Commission’s impact assessment: “One in every three chargers that is bundled with these products is never opened from its original packaging.”

The EU spent more than a decade trying to cajole the electronics industry into adopting a common charging standard, an effort that whittled different plugs down to a handful until the commission, which is the bloc’s executive arm, forced the issue with draft legislation last September.

The European Parliament and European Council are expected to give formal approval to the agreement after the summer break.

Updated: June 08, 2022, 7:29 AM