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EU-wide common charger for mobile devices to become a reality in 2024

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By Euronews
EU Commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, holding two smartphones.
EU Commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, holding two smartphones.   -   Copyright  Thierry Monasse/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.   -  

A common charger for mobile devices will be introduced in 2024 after members of the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of scrapping alternative charging methods.

By the end of 2024, all small and medium-sized portable electronic devices sold in the EU must be equipped with USB-C charging ports. This includes mobile and smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, as well as handheld videogame consoles.

It means that under the new rules, consumers will no longer need a different charger for purchases they make, as they will be able to use just a single charger for all their products.

"The common charger will finally become a reality in Europe," Alex Agius Saliba, the MEP who took the lead on the legislation in the European Parliament, said on Tuesday. "We have waited more than ten years for these rules, but we can finally leave the current plethora of chargers in the past. 

"This future-proof law allows for the development of innovative charging solutions in the future, and it will benefit everyone - from frustrated consumers to our vulnerable environment. 

"These are difficult times for politics, but we have shown that the EU has not run out of ideas or solutions to improve the lives of millions in Europe and inspire other parts of the world to follow suit," he added.

Brussels says the new legislation is good for both consumers and the environment, as it will help reduce waste by lessening the number of unused cables.

There will also be the option of choosing to purchase a device with or without a charging cable.

For years now, electronic device manufacturers have resisted the EU's push to standardise charging technologies. Today's decision will affect all providers, but most of all Apple.

"Basically, when it comes to smartphones, the elephant in the room is Apple," Agius Saliba told Euronews. "And yes, Apple, to be able to sell their products within the European Single Market, yes, they will have to abide by the USB-C standard from 2024."

The tech giant has previously criticised the proposal for a common charger as one that would hurt innovation.

The company commissioned a study by Copenhagen Economics which said the consumer harm from a single connector would outweigh environmental benefits.

They found that only 20% of the people surveyed would reduce their number of charging cables.

The legislation will now have to be rubber-stamped by the Council of the EU, after which member states will have until the end of 2024 to apply the rules effectively.