The EU Parliament has given its final approval to the USB-C uniform charging standard for smartphones and many other devices. Politicians voted almost unanimously for a regulation previously found by negotiators from the Parliament and EU states. Accordingly, the new specifications will come into force in 2024. In a final step, the EU states still have to agree, which is scheduled for Oct. 24. However, this is considered a formality, as is the now confirmed majority in the European Parliament.
There has been a long struggle for legal requirements. More than ten years ago, the Commission brought the charging cable issue to the forefront for the first time. In a voluntary commitment, 14 manufacturers – including Apple – agreed on a uniform standard for cell phone power adapters. For the sockets in smartphones and tablet computers, three types remain from what were once several dozen: USB-C, Apple’s Lightning connector, and Micro-USB.
The EU wants to make life easier for consumers, but also save on waste: In 2018, cell phone charging cables generated about 11,000 tons of e-waste, according to the EU Commission. Standardizing charging plugs “will contribute to reducing more than a thousand tons of waste in the EU per year,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in Strasbourg ahead of the vote.
In addition to cell phones, numerous other devices now fall under the new rules. These include tablets, digital cameras, headphones, speakers, e-readers, keyboards and mice. According to the EU Parliament, the new guidelines should lead to consumers in the EU saving 250 million euros per year because unnecessary charger purchases would be avoided.
However, there is also criticism of the EU’s approach. The industry association Bitkom is of the opinion: “The political commitment to a technical standard will primarily slow down innovations and runs massively counter to the important principle of technological openness,” said Bitkom CEO Bernhard Rohleder.