The European Parliament today voted overwhelmingly in favor of applying USB-C as a common charging port on a wide range of consumer electronics, including the iPhone and AirPods , by the end of 2024.
The proposal, known as the directive, requires all consumer electronics manufacturers selling their products in Europe to ensure that a wide range of devices have a USB-C port. This “common port” will be a world first and will impact Apple in particular since it widely uses the Lightning connector instead of USB-C on many of its devices. MEPs say the move will reduce e-waste, ensure product sustainability and make using different devices more convenient.
The directive received 602 votes for, 13 votes against and 8 abstentions. A press release issued by the European Parliament earlier today states:
By the end of 2024, all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU must be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port. From spring 2026, the obligation will extend to laptops. The new law, passed in plenary on Tuesday with 602 votes in favour, 13 against and 8 abstentions, is part of a wider EU effort to reduce e-waste and empower consumers to make better choices. durable.
Under the new rules, consumers will no longer need a different charger each time they buy a new device, as they can use one charger for a whole range of small and medium-sized portable electronic devices. .
Regardless of their manufacturer, all new mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, earphones and headphones, portable video game consoles and portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, headphones and portable computers rechargeable via a wired cable, operating with a power delivered up to 100 Watts, must be equipped with a USB Type-C port.
All devices that support fast charging will now have the same charging speed, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger.
Exemptions will apply to devices too small to offer a USB-C port, such as smartwatches, health trackers and some sports equipment, but the legislation is expected to expand to other devices over time. Companies will also need to ensure dedicated labels clearly inform consumers of the charging characteristics of the devices they purchase.
In addition, the EU seeks to ensure the interoperability of wireless charging solutions as technology evolves over time. The directive empowers the European Commission to draw up delegated acts by the end of 2024 that oblige companies to make their personalized wireless charging solutions more open and meet interoperability standards, helping consumers avoid getting caught up locked in proprietary charging solutions while preventing fragmentation and reducing waste. It’s unclear if this would include Apple’s MagSafe charging system for iPhone and AirPods as it’s based on the Qi wireless charging standard.
Now the European Council must approve the directive so that it can be published in the Official Journal of the EU. It will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU and its requirements will start applying to new devices after 24 months. Products offered for sale before the enforcement date will be exempt and may continue to be sold after that date.
In 2018, the European Commission tried to reach a final resolution on this issue, but it was not enacted. At the time, Apple warned that forcing a common charging port across the industry would stifle innovation and create e-waste as consumers would be forced to switch to new cables.
The EU effort resumed last year, with the European Commission spearheading an updated version of the directive. In April, the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee voted in favor of the directive, with 43 votes in favor and only two against. In June, the EU’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee reached an agreement to present the directive to the European Parliament.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and BloombergMark Gurman said Apple is testing a version of the iPhone that has a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port. Kuo thinks Apple could switch the iPhone to USB-C starting with the 2023 iPhone 15, before transitioning to AirPods and other accessories at a later date. This timeline would allow Apple to switch many of its affected devices to USB-C before the EU directive takes effect.
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