It is the last, mostly formal stage of bringing the “common charger directive” into force, which will require all devices to have the same charger from 2024.
Electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets and headphones will all be required to charge up using USB-C. Most phone makers have switched to that new standard – but Apple’s Lightning cable remains a notable exception.
Publicly, Apple has opposed the rules, arguing that they will limit innovation and that the focus should have been on the other end of the wire, which plugs into the wall. But behind the scenes, Apple has been moving towards adopting USB-C more broadly, and many of its products now charge up using the cable.
Apple has also integrated wireless charging into its more recent iPhones. The EU has not yet passed rules on that technology, but has said that it will be working to ensure that the various charging standards work with each other.
European officials say that the new rules will make it easier for customers to charge their devices, without having to search through different options. It will also help reduce electronic waste since users can keep the same charger when they buy new devices, they claim.
“We all have at least three mobile phone chargers at home. Looking for the right charger, either at home or at work, can be quite annoying,” said Jozef Síkela, Minister for Industry and Trade, in a statement. “On top of this, these chargers amount to 11.000 tonnes of e-waste every year.
“Having a charger that fits multiple devices will save money and time and also helps us reduce electronic waste.”
The rules also require companies to offer the option of buying new devices without a charger. Four years after the new rules go into force, the EU will examine whether that should be made mandatory.
The new rules also include a requirement that companies include a special informational image on their boxes, which will include details of whether the device comes with a charger and a label that shows how well it charges.
The new rules will now go into effect in two years. They will only cover new devices released after that fact – meaning that Apple will be able to continue selling older devices that still have the existing Lightning plug, for instance.
The EU has been looking to push companies towards a common charger for years. At the start of this year, that gained traction, with member states agreeing to introduce the rules, which were signed off by the European Parliament this summer.
While the rules do not apply outside of the EU – including in the UK – companies are expected to adopt the changes, given the expense of selling different versions of products in different countries.
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