The EU accepts the single charger standard, in a blow for Apple

The EU accepts the single charger standard, in a blow for Apple

European officials on Tuesday approved the text of a proposed EU law mandating a standard charger for smartphones, tablets and laptops sold in the bloc, in a blow to Apple.

EU member states and MEPs believe a standard cable for all devices will reduce e-waste, but iPhone juggernaut Apple says a one-size-fits-all charger would slow innovation and create more pollution.

For most portable devices, the requirement to charge via a USB Type-C port will come into effect from the end of 2024, the negotiators said, while laptops will have more time.

The USB-C rule will also extend to digital cameras, headphones, headsets, portable speakers and e-readers, they said.

Lawmakers agreed on the common charger based on a proposal made by the EU executive – the European Commission – in September, but came more than a decade after the European Parliament pushed for it. the first time.

The decision will be officially ratified by the European Parliament and among EU member states later this year before coming into force.

“We were able to do it in nine months, that means we can… go quickly when there is political will,” said European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton.

“We are able to say to the lobbies ‘sorry, but this is Europe and we are working for our people'”, he said.

The 27-nation union is home to 450 million people, some of the world’s wealthiest consumers, and imposing USB-C as the standard could affect the entire global market.

“It’s a rule that will apply to everyone,” said MEP Alex Agius Saliba, who led the negotiations for the European Parliament.

“If Apple…or anybody else wants to market their product, sell their product in our domestic market, they have to follow our rules and their device has to be USB-C,” he said.

EU member states and MEPs think one standard cable for all devices will reduce e-waste, but Apple says a one-size-fits-all charger would slow innovation and create more pollution EU member states and MEPs think one standard cable for all devices will reduce e-waste, but Apple says a one-size-fits-all charger would slow innovation and create more pollution Photo: AFP / Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD

The rules will also give shoppers the option to opt out of receiving a new charging cable when buying an electronic device.

And in order to prepare for the future, the law plans to set a standard for wireless charging.

It “didn’t have to end up… legislating for a technology that’s dying out, so we’re also planning ahead,” Saliba said.

Apple, which already uses USB-C connectors on some of its iPads and laptops, has insisted that any legislation to impose a universal charger for all mobiles in the European Union is unjustified.

“The proposal is grossly disproportionate to any perceived problem,” the company said in its response to the committee when the law was drafted.

Imposing a charger standard, she said, would stifle innovation and “reduce choice for European consumers by removing older, more affordable models from the market”.

Consumers currently have to choose between phones served by three main chargers: “Lightning” for Apple handsets, the micro-USB widely used on most other mobile phones, and the newer USB-C which is increasingly in use.

This range has already been greatly simplified since 2009, when dozens of different charger types were bundled with mobile phones, creating heaps of e-waste when users switched brands.

In making its proposal last year, the EU said the current situation remained wasteful and European consumers were spending around 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion) a year on standalone chargers that they bought separately.

The European Commission has long championed a voluntary agreement with the device industry that was put in place in 2009 and saw a steep reduction in cables, but Apple has refused to comply.

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