Smartphones: the EU imposes a single charger from 2024

Smartphones: the EU imposes a single charger from 2024

The end of incompatible chargers cluttering drawers? According to the agreement reached this Tuesday between the Member States and the MEPs, the EU will impose from 2024 a universal charger with cable for smartphones, tablets, consoles and digital cameras, to the chagrin of Apple, which opposed it.

By autumn 2024, a number of corded rechargeable devices – mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, headphones, digital cameras, portable game consoles, portable speakers… – must be equipped with a USB-C port to be sold in the EU regardless of the manufacturer.

Les ordinateurs portables seront soumis à la même exigence d’un chargeur unique d’ici le printemps 2026. The political agreement concluded Tuesday, after long negotiations, will be formally approved after the state by the European Parliament and the Council, representative instance the states.

The text also paves the way for the future standardization of wireless charging technologies, which are currently in full swing.

“Consumers will no longer need a different charging device and cable every time they buy a new device, they will be able to use one charger for all their small and medium-sized electronic devices,” by removing unnecessary accessories, says Parliament.

The text provides for the charging speed of devices that authorize fast charging to be harmonized, in order to prevent it from being restricted when using a charger from another brand. Labeling will be improved to better inform consumers, who will be able to purchase a device with or without a charger.

This regulation could allow European consumers, who spend 2.4 billion euros a year on chargers alone, to save at least 250 million euros a year, according to the European Commission. Unused magazine waste, estimated at 11,000 tons per year, could be reduced by nearly 1,000 tons.

“Suppressed” innovation?

This project was launched in 2009 by the Commission, but for a long time it met with resistance from the industry.

However, the number of charger types in existence has been greatly reduced over the years. From around 30 in 2009, they’ve gone to three: the Micro USB connector that’s long been installed in most phones, USB-C, a newer connection, and Apple’s Lightning charging technology.

The Californian group, which claims that Lightning equips more than a billion devices worldwide, has consistently voiced its opposition, believing the European text will “stifle innovation” and isolate the EU, subject to a choice of “outdated” standards. “, from The rest of the world.

By disqualifying some of the chargers and smartphones in circulation, Brussels “will impose significant losses on manufacturers, reduce consumer choice and create additional electronic waste,” Apple insisted on Tuesday.

“Let’s make it clear: if Apple wants to market its products (in Europe), we will have to respect our rules (…) We have to think about the environment,” replied Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton.

“Preparing for the future”

“While charging systems confine consumers to one brand and force us to accumulate cables at the expense of our wallets and natural resources, this is a stopping point for the most recalcitrant”, adds David Cormand (Greens) MEP.

His counterpart Geoffroy Didier (EPP, right) salutes the “voluntarism” of the EU in the face of “indecent waste dictated by the commercial interests of a few industrial groups”.

The ANEC association, which defends the rights of consumers on issues related to technological standards, welcomed “an agreement” that “simplifies the jungle of options that until now has been imposed on consumers.”

ANEC had regretted that the initial project did not refer to wireless charging systems, but the final agreement includes provisions to determine a common standard in this niche, which is about to become the majority in the coming years.

The adopted text “prepares the future (…) so as not to pass legislation on a technology that is already disappearing”, assured Alex Agius Saliba MEP (S&D, Social Democrats), rapporteur of the text.

Thus, as wireless technology spreads, the Commission will be empowered to produce “delegated acts on the interoperability of charging solutions”, i.e. regulations that can be applied directly without being subject to a vote in the Council or the European Parliament.

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