No more tangled cables: In the future, there will be a standard charging cable for numerous devices in the EU. Negotiations on this are close to an agreement. There is still some debate about which devices should be specifically affected in addition to mobile phones.

Negotiators from the EU states and the European Parliament could agree on uniform charging cables for electronic devices in the EU on Tuesday. They meet at 9 a.m. for what may be the last round of negotiations. Both sides agreed before negotiations began that USB-C should become the standard charging socket. Up until the very end, there was still debate about which devices, in addition to mobile phones, should specifically be affected by the new regulation. An agreement could mean that uniform charging cables will become a reality in the EU in mid-2024.

The fact that the parliament and EU states were already quite close on many points is also shown by the fact that an agreement seems possible only a few weeks after the start of negotiations between the European Parliament and EU states. In the case of other legislative projects, talks between the EU institutions often drag on for months.

The negotiations are under a certain amount of time pressure. If no agreement is reached, it could be that negotiations will only continue under the Czech EU Council Presidency after the summer break in September. Every six months in Brussels, the presidency changes among the EU countries. For example, the presidency chairs meetings and negotiates with the European Parliament in the so-called trilogues, also on behalf of the EU states.

Exact requirements for charging cables are still unclear

In addition to the question of which devices should be covered by the new regulation, there are other points of contention between Parliament and EU countries. For example, there is still a struggle about which exact requirements should apply in the future for the separate sale of devices and cables and whether a standard for wireless charging should also be agreed.

Legal requirements for charging cables – charging sockets to be more precise – have been the subject of debate for a long time. More than ten years ago, the commission brought the charging cable issue up for the first time. In a voluntary commitment, 14 manufacturers – including Apple – agreed on a uniform standard for mobile phone power supplies. When it comes to the sockets in smartphones and tablet computers, three of what used to be several dozen types remain: USB-C, Apple’s Lightning connector and micro-USB.

According to the EU Commission, the regulation could save almost 1000 tons of electronic waste. Currently, an estimated 11,000 tons of electronic waste is generated annually from discarded and unused chargers. However, critics fear that the EU approach could come to nothing, since old chargers can no longer be used and USB-C has become increasingly established as the standard for electronic devices in the past.