All smartphones must use the same charger cable, according to EU rule

LONDON (AP) — Soon, only one charger will be needed for all smartphones and other portable electronic devices sold in Europe.

European Union officials said they signed an interim agreement on Tuesday that will require a uniform charging cord across the 27-nation bloc. It’s part of a larger effort to make products more sustainable and reduce e-waste.

The new rules, which will come into effect in the fall of 2024, mandate a common USB Type-C cable for small and medium-sized rechargeable portable electronic devices.

“European consumers were frustrated with multiple chargers piling up at home,” Alex Agius Saliba, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator, told a press briefing in Brussels. “Now they will be able to use a single charger for all portable electronic devices, which is an important step in increasing consumer convenience.”

Devices covered include cell phones, tablets, e-readers, headphones, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, portable video game consoles, keyboards and mice, portable speakers and navigation.

Laptops are also covered, but manufacturers will have more time to comply.

The rules only apply to devices sold in the European single market, which includes 30 countries. However, like the EU’s strict privacy regulations, they could end up becoming a de facto standard for the rest of the world.

While many electronics manufacturers have started adopting USB-C plugs for their devices, Apple has been one of the main holdouts.

Apple, which did not respond to a request for comment, previously said it was concerned the rules would limit innovation and hurt consumers. The company’s iPhone has a Lightning charging port, although newer models include cables that can be plugged into a USB-C outlet.

EU rules also set standards for fast-charging technology and give consumers the right to choose whether to buy new devices with or without a charger, which the EU says will save consumers $250. million euros ($266 million) per year.

Reducing electronic waste is another goal. The EU estimates that discarded or unused chargers account for 11,000 metric tons of e-waste in Europe every year.

“One in three chargers supplied with these products are never opened from their original packaging,” according to the European Commission’s impact assessment, Saliba said.

The European Parliament and the European Council are expected to give their formal approval to the deal after the summer break.

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