End of charger chaos: EU to mandate common charger

10 June 2022

On Tuesday, the EU finally reached a deal on the common charger – an initiative that has been pushed for implementation for the past 10 years. From the autumn of 2024, all mobile phones and other portable electronic devices, such as earbuds, e-readers and tablets, sold in the EU will be subject to rules that ensure that they may only be sold with a USB-C charger. For laptops, it will apply from 2027.

Alex Agius Saliba, the Parliament’s rapporteur and a member of IMCO, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, acknowledged the EU’s general interest when announcing the deal: “Today we have made the common charger a reality in Europe. European consumers were frustrated long with multiple chargers piling up with every new device. Now they will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics.” As Commissioner Thierry Breton wrote on Twitter: “The EU general interest has prevailed.” 

The agreement is a victory for both the environment and consumers. “We get to reduce the electronic waste we have created, so in reality we are doing something good for the draw on the planet’s resources. The environment is getting better, and so are consumers. It really is a big day,” says Christel Schaldemose, the Danish Member of the European Parliament. According to the European Parliament, consumers across EU member states will be able to save up to 250 million euros a year by reusing chargers for electronic devices. The recycling of chargers will also help reduce electronic waste, which the EU estimates to be 11,000 tonnes a year.

Most phone manufacturers have already adopted USB-C on their new phones. Realistically, this is not something that is going to change much for anyone other than Apple. Going forward, the EU common charger rules will set a global standard for tech companies who will have to decide if they are going to market USB-C iPhone models on a global scale or just focus on EU-level. Apple, having previously been opposed to the unification of chargers, has now decided it will be making the switch, according to a Twitter statement by the Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

The next, and final step, on the agenda is to wait for the European Parliament to formally approve of the proposal in July.

Nevertheless, there has been concerns over the long transition period, which could affect newer and better standards that may emerge by 2024. However, as Breton assured the audience: “Don’t think we’re setting something in stone for the next 10 years. We have a standard that is being developed, and we have a dedicated team that will keep a close eye on all this and adapt as time goes by. We will evolve.” Overall, it seems that the EU has put itself in the saddle to be faster and more flexible in terms of technology.