European Parliament passes legislation introducing a universal charger

Sarhan Basem
Stack of Smart Phone Charging with Cable on the Wooden Table.

Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The European Parliament adopted new rules Tuesday introducing a common charger for small electronic devices like smartphones and tablets.

The new law means that starting in the fall of 2024, USB type-C will be the standard charging port for smartphones, tablets, e-readers, keyboards, computer mice, GPS devices, digital cameras, headphones, headsets and earbuds, hand-held video game consoles, and portable speakers. Starting in 2026, USB-C will also become the norm for laptop chargers. The text was adopted with a large majority: 602 votes in favor, 13 against, and eight abstentions.

The political intervention, which the European Commission said would make life easier for consumers and save them money, came after companies failed to reach a common solution.

Brussels has been pushing for a single mobile charging port for more than a decade, prompted by complaints from iPhone and Android users about having to switch to different chargers for their devices.

Smartphone manufacturers have resisted the EU’s push to standardize charging technologies for years. A decade ago, the industry struck a deal with the Commission, committing to progressively reduce the number of different charging technologies. This yielded some progress but was still considered insufficient by the Parliament, which in 2020 redoubled its calls to the Commission to put forward a legislative proposal to regulate the issue.

On this ongoing hot topic, Brussels Morning consulted members of the EU parliament. From Renew Europe MEP, Róża Thun Hohenstein (Polska 2050, Poland), shadow rapporteur on the common charger in IMCO Committee, and MEP Andrey Kovatchev from the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats).

Renew Europe MEP, Róża Thun

“One could think that a charger is a very small thing. But when you reflect on it, it is actually an important one! This is because big projects like the single market consist of such a small brick. And this brick will be an important element of our single market. 
It wasn’t easy. It took us some time. I campaigned for the common charger for many years. Now, I am happy that we finally achieved a solution that will facilitate consumers’ lives and help the environment. We managed to expand its scope and cover almost twice as many product categories as initially proposed. Thanks to this, the common charger will really have an impact on our lives, and what’s most important for me – we will decrease the use of raw materials, reduce e-waste by thousands of tones and give our fellow citizens a chance to decide for themselves on whether they want to buy a device with or without any charger.” said MEP Hohenstein.

On this topic, MEP Kovatchev stated that with the introduction of a common charger, Europe continues to serve its citizens and to facilitate their everyday lives, just as it did with the abolition of roaming fees.

Andrey Kovatchev MEP

He underlined that after waiting ten years for any action from the industry, the EU is finally adopting legislation to standardize chargers.

“The proposal, which was overwhelmingly supported in the Parliament, is good for consumers, and the environment and does not hamper innovation. The directive on the common charger will contribute to reducing electronic waste while giving consumers more choice and better information on what they are getting when they buy electronics” concluded the MEP.

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Brussels Morning is a daily online newspaper based in Belgium. BM publishes unique and independent coverage on international and European affairs. With a Europe-wide perspective, BM covers policies and politics of the EU, significant Member State developments, and looks at the international agenda with a European perspective.
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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.