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Europe one step closer to a ‘universal charger’ system

Under the proposal, the USB Type-C port would become the standard port. Credit: Halacious/ Unsplash

After reducing the number of chargers from 30 to three in the last decade, the European Commission on Thursday put forward a legislative proposal to force all tech companies to adopt a “universal charger” system.

Although this could lead to a slight increase in the cost of some products, the Commission stressed that it would help consumers avoid the unnecessary costs of buying additional chargers and that it would help limit the vast amounts of electronics waste.

“European consumers have been frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age.

“We gave the industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions; now the time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions,” she added.

Under the proposal, the USB Type-C port would become the standard port for devices for smartphones, and other small portable electronics, such as cameras, headphones and tablets, including devices produced by Apple, which currently uses its own Lightning technology.

Meanwhile, a harmonised fast charging technology will become mandatory to help ensure that the charging speed is the same when using any compatible charger for a device.

The Commission also proposed making it compulsory for companies to sell chargers and devices separately to prevent consumers from accumulating unnecessary chargers.

The proposal includes a transition period of two years from the date of adoption to give the tech industry enough time to adapt before the entry into application.

The European Parliament – where nearly all political parties called to make a universal charger obligatory for all smartphone brands – and the Council will now have to study the proposal and take a position before it can be adopted.

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