Thursday’s announcement by the European Union would require that the smartphone industry adopt a standard charging cord for mobile devices. This could end the all-too-familiar experience with digging through tangled cables in order to find the right one.
The European Commission, which is the executive arm of the bloc, proposed legislation to mandate USB-C cables in charging. This technology has been adopted by many device manufacturers. Apple is the main stumbling block, stating that it was worried about new regulations limiting innovation and resulting in consumers being hurt. Apple’s Lightning charging port is standard on iPhones, but the latest models have cables that can be connected to a USB-C socket.
Millions of people have searched through hundreds of cables looking for the right one to fit their phones. The EU’s push will be welcomed by them. The EU wants to reduce the 11,000 tonnes of electronic waste that Europeans throw out each year.
According to the commission, the average EU resident has at least three chargers and uses two of them regularly. However, 38% of those polled said they were unable to charge their phones at all because they couldn’t find a compatible charger. Last year, the EU sold 420 million smartphones and other portable electronic devices.
The EU estimates that the draft rules will help consumers save 250 million euros ($293million) annually by standardizing fast-charging technology.
After trying for over a decade to persuade the industry to adopt a common standard, efforts that reduced dozens of charging plugs to a few, the EU’s executive Commission has now taken up the cause.
“Chargers power our most important electronic devices. There are more chargers than ever before, and they aren’t interchangeable or necessary for every device. “We are putting an ending to that,” Thierry Braton, EU’s internal market commissioner said. “With our proposal European consumers will now be able use one charger for all of their portable electronics. This is a significant step to improve convenience and reduce waste.
Once the new rules take effect, companies will have two years to adjust to them. These rules will only apply to electronics sold in the European single markets’ 30 member countries. However, similar to the EU’s privacy regulations, they could become a global standard.
Apple stated that it supports the European Commission’s commitment towards protecting the environment, but asked if the proposals would benefit consumers.
The company released a statement saying that it was concerned by the strict regulation that only one type of connector is required. This will hinder innovation and not encourage it.
Breton denied the new rules would slow down innovation.
Apple will be able to keep their own plug if they want. Breton stated that innovation is not a problem, but it was to make life easier for our fellow citizens.” He spoke at a Brussels press conference. He also said that device manufacturers could still use two ports on their phones if necessary. Breton said that the proposals would allow updates to keep up with technological advances.
The proposed law, which still needs to be approved by the European Parliament and scrutinized, would require that all phones, tablets, digital cameras and handheld gaming consoles sold in the European Union have USB-C charging ports. Earbuds, smartwatches, and fitness trackers don’t count.