The European Parliament has been working on introducing legislation for a common USB-C charging port since last year, after years of lawmakers advocating for the standardisation since the Radio Equipment Directive was introduced. When the proposal was put to a vote, it received overwhelming support for adoption from member nations in its Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) committee, with only two countries against it.
Europe has now agreed to a deal that will harmonise the charging port for 15 categories of small and medium-sized portable electronic devices by Autumn of 2024 — it will be in force 20 days after publication in the EU Official Journal after it is put to a formal vote this summer, with a grace period for compliance. This will include smartphones, laptops, keyboards, mice, portable navigation devices, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones, handheld gaming consoles, and portable speakers.
We have reached a deal on the common charger! 🔌👏
✔️mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, digital cameras & more #USBtypeC
✔️harmonised fast-charging technology
✔️unbundling of sale of chargers from the sale of device
— IMCO Committee Press (@EP_SingleMarket) June 7, 2022
Smartphone manufacturers will have 24 months to comply with the legislation after it goes into force while laptop manufacturers will have up to 40 months. Going further than just enforcing USB-C as the standard charging port, the deal will also see charging speeds be harmonised for fast charging, allowing consumers to charge any device at the same speed with a compatible charger.
The new rule will also force manufacturers to provide clear labelling on charging compatibility details on new devices, as well as having to allow users to choose whether or not to include a charger when purchasing a new gadget. The EU estimates that this legislation will lead to consumers saving 250 million Euros (~RM1.17 billion) every year on buying unnecessary chargers and will save 11,000 tonnes of e-waste annually.
The legislation also includes provisions designed to address wireless chargers in the future, which previously called for “interoperability” by 2026. Additionally, to address criticism that the law might stifle innovation, commissioner Thierry Breton said that it will be updated as new technology is developed. “Don’t think we’re setting something in stone for the next 10 years … we will evolve,” said Breton.
While the commissioner clarified that they are not going after any particular company, Apple is clearly going to be the most affected by this legislation as it currently uses its proprietary Lightning port on its iPhones. With Europe’s strong push for USB-C, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that Apple might actually adopt the standard for its 2023 iPhones.