Infotech The European Union imposes a single charger from 2024 (including Apple)

The European Union imposes a single charger from 2024 (including Apple)

The end of incompatible chargers cluttering drawers? According to the agreement reached on Tuesday, June 7 between Member States and MEPs, the EU will impose from 2024 a universal wired charger for smartphones, tablets, consoles and digital cameras, to the chagrin of Apple who opposed it .

By autumn 2024, a series of cable-rechargeable devices – mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, headphones, digital cameras, portable video game consoles, portable speakers… – will have to be equipped with a port USB-C to be sold in the EU, regardless of manufacturer.

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A single charger for laptops too

Laptops will be subject to the same single charger requirement by spring 2026. The political agreement reached on Tuesday, after lengthy negotiations, will be formally approved after the summer by the European Parliament and the Council, the body representing the states.

The text also paves the way for future standardization of wireless charging technologies, which are currently in full swing.

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“Consumers will no longer need a different device and charging cable each time they buy a new device, they will be able to use one charger for all their small and medium-sized electronic devices”eliminating unnecessary accessories, explains the Parliament.

The text provides that the charging speed be harmonized for devices authorizing fast charging, in order to prevent it from being restricted when using a charger of a different brand. Labeling will be improved to better inform consumers, who will be able to buy a device with or without a charger.

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This regulation could save European consumers – who spend 2.4 billion euros a year on purchases of chargers alone – at least 250 million euros annually, according to the European Commission. Unused magazine waste, estimated at 11,000 tonnes per year, could be reduced by almost 1,000 tonnes.

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This project was launched in 2009 by the Commission, but for a long time it came up against resistance from the industry.

However, the number of types of existing chargers has been greatly reduced over the years. From around thirty in 2009, they have gone to three: the Micro USB connector which has long been fitted to the majority of telephones, USB-C, a more recent connection, and Apple’s Lightning charging technology.

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The Californian group, which claims that Lightning equips more than a billion devices worldwide, has constantly expressed its opposition, believing that the European text “will stifle innovation”and will cut the EU – subject to a choice of standards “obsolete” – from the rest of the world.

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By disqualifying some of the chargers and smartphones in circulation, Brussels “will impose significant losses on manufacturers, reduce consumer choice and generate electronic waste” additional, Apple insisted on Tuesday.

“Let’s say it clearly: if Apple wants to market its products (in Europe), it will have to respect our rules […] You have to think about the environment”replied the Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton.

Wireless chargers soon to be standardized

The ANEC association, which defends consumer rights on issues related to technological standards, welcomed ” a deal “ who “simplifies the jungle of options hitherto inflicted on consumers”.

ANEC had deplored that the initial project did not concern wireless charging systems, but the final agreement includes provisions for determining a common standard in this niche, which is about to become the majority in the next few years.

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The adopted text “Prepare for the future […] so as not to pass legislation on a technology that is already disappearing”assured MEP Alex Agius Saliba (S&D, Social Democrats), rapporteur for the text.

Thus, as wireless technology spreads, the Commission will be empowered to develop “delegated acts on the interoperability of charging solutions”that is to say regulations that can be applied directly without being subject to a vote in the Council or the European Parliament.

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