The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union expect to agree on a global charger on June 7, a move that could save up to 250 million euros annually.

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union expect to agree on a global charger on June 7, a move that could save up to 250 million euros annually.

The European Parliament and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection have called for a global charger for the past 10 years, and have consistently urged the Commission to take action on it. According to information obtained by Reuters, Parliament and the Council of the European Union should agree on the creation of a global charger on June 7. The directive plans to force electronics manufacturers to install the same charging port for every smartphone, tablet, console or pair of headphones, but also for all laptops. With the single charger, the user does not need to go around with different connectors for each device. It will avoid having to buy different equipment each time. According to a study by the Commission, European consumers will save up to 250 million euros annually with this measure.

In 2020, about 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in the European Union. On average, consumers own about three cell phone chargers and use two regularly. Despite this, 38% of consumers said that they faced the problem of not being able to recharge their cell phones at least once because the chargers provided were incompatible. The situation is not only inconvenient but also costly for consumers, who spend about €2.4 billion annually on standalone chargers that are not sold with their electronic devices. In addition, it is estimated that discarded or unused chargers account for up to 11,000 tons of e-waste annually.

To meet the challenges facing consumers and the environment, since 2009 the authority has supported a comprehensive solution for charging mobile phones and similar electronic devices. The authority initially facilitated the sector’s conclusion of a voluntary agreement in 2009 that led to the adoption of the first memorandum of understanding and enabled the number of current charging solutions for mobile phones in the market to be reduced from 30 to 3. After the protocol expired in 2014, a new industry proposal submitted in March 2018 was found to be unsatisfactory in terms of providing a one-size-fits-all solution to shipping or the need to improve convenience for consumers and reduce e-waste.

In September 2021, the commission proposed a universal charger for electronic devices. According to the commission, thanks to the proposed revision of the radio equipment directive, the charging port and fast charging technology will be harmonized: the USB Type-C port will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and portable video game consoles. In addition, the commission suggested separating the sale of chargers from the sale of electronic devices. The commission estimated that this would improve consumer convenience and reduce the environmental footprint associated with the production and disposal of chargers, thus supporting green and digital transformations.

In particular, the Commission shall:

  • Coordinating charging port for electronic devices: The USB Type C port will be the generic port. This will allow consumers to charge their devices with the same USB Type-C charger, regardless of the brand of the device.
  • Consistent fast charging technologyThis will prevent different manufacturers from unduly limiting the charging speed and will help ensure that the charging speed is the same regardless of the compatible charger used with the device.
  • To separate the sale of the charger from the sale of the electronic device: Consumers will be able to purchase a new electronic device without a new charger, which will limit the purchase of unwanted chargers or the number of unused remaining chargers. It is estimated that reducing production and disposing of new chargers will reduce the amount of e-waste by approximately 1,000 tons per year.
  • Better Consumer Information: Producers will need to provide relevant information on charging performance, including information on the power required for the device and whether the device supports fast charging. This will make it easier for consumers to see if their current chargers meet the requirements of their new device or select a compatible charger. This measure, along with others, will help consumers reduce the number of new chargers purchased and allow them to save 250 million euros annually by avoiding the purchase of unnecessary chargers.

European consumers have been bothered long enough by the buildup of incompatible chargers in their drawers, said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of Europe Fit for the Digital Age. We’ve given the industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, but now is the time to take legislative action in favor of a universal charger. This is a huge win for our customers and our environment, in line with our environmental and digital ambitions.

Inland Market Commissioner Terry Britton said: “Chargers power all our essential electronic devices. With the number of devices constantly growing, an increasing number of non-interchangeable or unnecessary chargers are being sold. We put an end to this situation. With our proposal, European consumers will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronic devices. This is an important measure to improve comfort and reduce wastage.

Charging portable electronic devices: a USB-C port for everyone

At the end of April, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection adopted its position on the review of the wireless device directive by 43 votes to 2 against.

The new rules are aimed not only at ensuring that consumers no longer need a new charger and new cables every time they buy a new mobile device, but also to allow them to use only one charger for all of their small and medium-sized electronic devices. Cell phones, tablets, digital cameras, earphones, headphones, portable video game consoles, and portable speakers should have a USB-C port, regardless of brand, except for devices that are too small for this type of port, such as smart watches, health tracking and sports devices.

In light of the increasingly widespread practice of wireless charging, MEPs are also calling on the European Commission to present a strategy by the end of 2026 that will ensure a minimum interoperability for all new charging solutions. The goal is to avoid further fragmentation, continue to reduce environmentally harmful waste, ensure consumer convenience, and avoid the shutdown effects associated with proprietary shipping solutions.

Knowing that 500 million mobile device chargers are shipped each year in Europe and that they generate between 11,000 and 13,000 tons of e-waste and one charger for phones, laptops, and other small to medium-sized devices, said Rapporteur Alex Agios Saliba (S&D, MT). The e-mail will benefit everyone. This will work for the environment, promote the reuse of old electronic products, save money and reduce unnecessary costs for businesses and consumers. We are proposing a truly global policy based on the Commission’s proposal, in particular by addressing the issue of interoperability of wireless charging technologies by 2026 and improving the information provided to consumers with specific benchmarks. We’re also working to expand it by including more devices, including laptops, which must comply with the new rules.

Reuters reports that Parliament and the Council of the European Union are expected to agree on the introduction of a universal charger on June 7. If the agreement was indeed validated during the trial trial that day, it would be necessary to wait for guidance. To be transferred in each member state. A period that allows manufacturers time to comply with Europe’s decision.

The series is incompatible with Apple

Apple is the main rejecter of the adoption of the universal charger. Since 2009, the company has systematically denounced this project, stating that it would harm innovation in the field. The time it took to move forward on this project demonstrates the strength of Apple, which so far has been able to delay the process while other manufacturers have agreed to use the USB-B, and now USB-C, port, they outlined their green commitment Saskia Brickmont in the New York Times last September. To claim that the European Commission’s proposal to make USB-C the only wired smartphone charging standard would stifle innovation would be standard nonsense. For Anna Cavazzini, chair of the European Parliament’s Consumer Protection Committee, if something better than USB-C emerges, the rules will adapt.

This file is far from the only source of tension between the European Commission and the big tech brand. The latter does not necessarily see very favorably the two projects aimed at regulating digital technology currently under discussion at the European level: the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Apple and its tech peers boosted their lobbying spending to 97 million euros, according to a report from European Business Monitor and LobbyControl in August 2021.

Added to this is the condemnation imposed in 2016 by the European Commission for requiring Apple to compensate Ireland for 13 billion euros in unpaid taxes.

Source: Reuters

And you?

How would you rate this proposal?

In your opinion, will the problem of incompatibility between chargers and devices of different brands be definitively resolved by this proposal for guidance?

If this law is formed, do you think we will be able to get an iPhone with a USB-C port on the market?

Does Apple share its view that Europe’s proposal would stifle innovation?

2022-06-04 12:00:31

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