European Union lawmakers have agreed on legislation that will ensure that all future smartphones sold in the EU, including Apple’s iPhone, will be equipped with the universal USB-C port for wired charging by autumn 2024. The rule will also apply to other electronic devices, including tablets, digital cameras, headphones, handheld game consoles and e-readers.
The legislation has been under consideration for years, but after negotiations between several EU bodies, an agreement was reached this morning on its scope and details.
The European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection has announced the news in a tweet leading up to a press conference to be held later in the day at 12:30 PM CEST (6:30 AM ET). The legislation is yet to be approved by the European Parliament and Council later this year, but this seems more of a formality than anything else. In a press release, the European Parliament said the law would come into force “in the fall of 2024”.
“Today we made the common charger a reality in Europe!” European Parliament rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba said in a statement. “European consumers have long been frustrated with multiple chargers piling up with every new device. Now they can use a single charger for all their portable electronics.” The legislation will also include provisions aimed at tackling wireless chargers and harmonizing fast charging standards.
We reached a deal on the common charger!
✔️mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, digital cameras and more #USBtypeC
✔️harmonized fast charging technology
✔️unbundling sales of chargers from sales of device
Press conference at 12.30pm CEST ➡️ https://t.co/TCBXxzIEdr pic.twitter.com/29JmeL0nxe
— IMCO Committee Press (@EP_SingleMarket) June 7, 2022
The rules are an attempt to reduce e-waste in the EU by making chargers for electronic devices interoperable. In the future, lawmakers hope that phones won’t have to come with a charger in the box, because buyers already have the right cable and wall charger in their house. The EU estimates that the rules could save consumers €250 million a year on “unnecessary charger purchases” and cut about 11,000 tons of e-waste a year.
The deal would have the biggest impact on Apple, which is the only major smartphone maker to still use its own port instead of USB-C. In 2021, Apple sold 241 million iPhones worldwide, of which about 56 million were in Europe. The EU press release specifically states that the rules apply to devices “that are rechargeable via a wired cable,” meaning that a device that only charges wirelessly does not need to have a USB-C port.
The European Commission announced current plans for the legislation last September, but the bloc’s efforts to force manufacturers to use a common charging standard go back more than a decade. In the years since, Android manufacturers have converged to micro-USB and then USB-C as the usual charging standard, while Apple moved from offering phones with its own 30-pin connector to Lightning.
Apple has backed away from the EU’s attempts to force it to use USB-C on its phones. “We remain concerned that strict regulations requiring only one type of connector are stifling rather than encouraging innovation, which in turn will hurt consumers in Europe and around the world,” a spokesperson said. Reuters last year. It is also claimed that forcing a switch to USB-C to create e-waste rather than reducing it, as it would make its existing ecosystem of Lightning accessories obsolete.
Still, there are reports from Apple that the company may be preparing to port its iPhones to USB-C charging. Bloomberg reported last month that the company was testing iPhones with USB-C internally, and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed it could make the switch as early as next year. Aside from its phones, Apple is a big believer in the USB-C standard and already uses it on its laptops and higher end iPads.