[German]The European Parliament and the EU member states agreed on USB-C as a uniform charging cable standard within the European Union on June 7, 2022. This means that this standard can probably come in mid-2024. Smartphones and other small electrical devices will then have to have USB-C as a uniform charging port in order to be sold in the EU.
In my blog post USB-C as a uniform standard for charging cable is coming in Europe I had mentioned the the long way to this device charging cable standard agreement. In 2013 I had a German blog post Einheitliche EU-Ladeschnittstelle für Smartphones & Tablets on the topic. Back in 2011 there was a voluntary commitment by smartphone manufacturers and importers, for a unified charging interface for cables.
USB-C interface smartphone, source: own image
But that failed, and in September 2021 the EU Commission drew a sobering conclusion: Although a voluntary approach had been worked on with the industry for years, leading to a reduction of the multitude of chargers from 30 to three types over the last ten years, a complete solution could not be found. As a result, a legislative initiative was launched.
Agreement at EU level
Negotiators from the European Parliament and EU states have agreed to introduce a single charging port for smartphones and many other devices in the European Union. By fall 2024, USB Type-C will become the common charging port for all cell phones, tablets and cameras in the EU, the European Parliament and the EU Council Presidency announced.
Currently, it is still a "provisional" agreement related to the amended Radio Equipment Directive, which introduces a uniform charging solution for certain electronic devices. This legislation is part of the EU's broader efforts to make products in the EU more sustainable, reduce e-waste and make consumers' lives easier. The preliminary agreement reached today still requires approval by the Council and the European Parliament, but this is considered a formality following the agreement reached by negotiators. On the Council side, the preliminary political agreement still needs to be endorsed by the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) before the formal steps of the adoption procedure are taken.
Once the new rules are in place, consumers will no longer need a different charger and cable every time they buy a new device. It smells a single charger for all their small and medium-sized portable electronic devices, according to the EU Commission (whether that works for all devices remains to be seen). Cell phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, portable video game consoles and portable speakers that can be charged via a cable must be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of their manufacturer. This also applies to Apple, where iPhones have so far been equipped with their own Lightning interface. The EU Commission also wants laptops to be adapted to the requirements by 40 months after they come into force. The list will be continuously reviewed and expanded – for the first time in three years, later every five years.
However, the new regulation will not apply to existing devices – in other words, no one will have to take them out of service. And I assume that existing old devices will also be allowed to be sold by the deadline. The old micro-USB standard should thus mutate into a discontinued model.
urthermore, the Radio Equipment Directive will also harmonize charging speeds for devices that support fast charging, so that users can charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger. Consumers will be provided with clear information on the charging characteristics of new devices, making it easier for them to determine if their existing chargers are compatible. Shoppers will also be able to choose whether to buy new electronic devices with or without chargers.
The EU's hope: These new obligations will lead to greater reuse of chargers and help consumers save up to €250 million per year on unnecessary charger purchases. Discarded and unused chargers account for an estimated 11,000 tons of e-waste per year. As wireless charging technology becomes more prevalent, the European Commission will be empowered to issue so-called delegated acts on the interoperability of charging solutions. We will see what can be realized at the end of the day.
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Ah, yes, all very fine. But what happens with the rest of the world? I continue to see in the future problems for manufacturers having to issue special "Euro" editions of smartphones, while the rest of the world chugs along on micro-USB connectors.
Unless the changeover becomes universal.
I rather like the look of the USB-C; it definitely looks more rugged than micro-USB, usually one of the first physical things to fail on an Android smartphone.