The universal charger arrives in the European Union

The Parliament of the European Union has just approved the single or universal mobile phone charger. The 2014 directive on radio equipment already called for the development of a single charger, and also gave the Commission powers to promote this objective through a delegated act. As a result of this approval, MEPs have tasked the Commission with developing new legislation on the subject which should be ready before the summer of 2020. The decision was approved by a large majority of MEPs, with 582 votes in favour, 40 against and 32 abstentions.

This initiative of the universal charger, which already started to take shape in 2009, had never been accepted or proactively developed by manufacturers, so the European Union has decided to take the initiative and legislate on it. In spite of the time that has passed, voluntary agreements between different manufacturers have not achieved the desired objective.

MEPs have insisted over the years on a single charger for all mobile phone models, tablets, e-books and other portable devices and according to some estimates, discarded chargers in the EU generate 51,000 tonnes of waste per year. That’s an average of 6kg per person. In Europe alone, by 2016, e-waste will reach 12.3 million tonnes, or 16.6 kg per inhabitant. Therefore, the main objective of this European Community initiative is to reduce the amount of electronic waste and provide consumers with sustainable choices, while ensuring interoperability between different mobile devices.

Many manufacturers of Android devices have already moved in this direction by adopting the USB type C connector, although it is true that some are still using the micro USB. Despite this, the manufacturer most reluctant to accept the universal charger has been Apple, which has never been willing to give up its accessories with lightning connectors, for technological reasons, but also for commercial and brand reasons.

This vote directly affects Apple, which will have to extend the use of USB-C chargers beyond its iPad Pro and MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air range, but also to the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch from the moment the Commission decides that devices with other standards cannot be sold.