EU Seals Deal on Common Charger

EU has finally sealed the deal on a common type charger which has been a hassle for European consumer for a long time. Co-legislators from the European Union have reached a provisional agreement on a common charging solution for smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other small and medium-sized electronics — a total of 15 different categories — agreeing that USB Type C will be the common charging port for in scope devices by autumn 2024.

Because of the differing power charging characteristics, laptop manufacturers have been given a bit more time to implement the universal charging method – they now have 40 months after the guidelines take effect to change their equipment.

The EU is also addressing wireless charging interoperability, though not immediately; MPs have decided that the Commission should urge standards bodies to develop a standard to enable wireless charging interoperability. The Commission will thereafter be able to amend the directive through delegated acts to guarantee that wireless charging kits do not circumvent the need for a uniform methodology.

The interim agreement between the European Parliament and the Council clear the way for a formal vote later this summer to adopt the modification to the EU’s Radio Equipment Directive — but getting an agreement among the bloc’s co-legislators is traditionally the most difficult part of EU lawmaking.

The new rules will also take effect 20 days after they are published in the EU Official Journal, with the unified charging provisions taking effect 24 months later (hence 2024).

For actually more than a decade, the European Parliament has pushed for unified charger guidelines, stating that it is a necessary step in reducing the amount of e-waste generated by European customers. According to EU parliamentarians, unused chargers account for around 11,000 tonnes of e-waste each year.

Last October, the Commission finally presented a plan, and it’s worth noting that today’s settlement was reached in just a few months.

“The standard charging approach will have an impact on more than just Apple. When it comes into force in two years, it will affect a lot of brands that produce some of these 15 different types of products,” said Alex Agius Saliba, the parliament’s lead negotiator on the issue, during a press conference in which he called the provisional agreement “historic” and a “great achievement.”

EU consumers will have the option of purchasing a new gadget with or without an external power source under the new guidelines, and they will be given clear information on the charging characteristics of new devices so that they can quickly determine whether their existing chargers are compatible or not.

Manufacturers who put in-scope goods on the market before the application deadline will not be forced to comply, thus it will be interesting to see if there is a rush of device launches to use up existing components before the deadline.

Thierry Breton, the European Commission’s internal market commissioner, was also present at the press conference to applaud what he called a “very important” deal, saying that a single charging method is in the best interests of European consumers and the environment.

Breton continued, “It’s true, we’ve been waiting for ten years.” Nine months – and just nine months! It indicates that when there is political will, we can move quickly. When we can tell the lobbyists, “Sorry, but this is Europe; we are working for our own people, not yours.”

He warned that device makers that want to sell to EU consumers “will have to apply to our standards,” asking them to “be ready” and advising them not to wait the entire two years to make the changeover since “these will be the rules.”

Breton also stated that the Commission is working on ecodesign and energy labeling rules, which he claims are aimed at preventing smartphone and tablet premature obsolescence, another “extremely serious” issue.

“These measures will also include reliability, ease of dismantling, incentivizing repair, access to vital spare parts, and enhancing recycling,” Breton continued, implying that suggested legislation would be available after the summer vacation.

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