The new rules aim to cut down on waste and provide savings for consumers by letting them use a single charger for various portable electronic devices.
After many years of discussion, a universal charger across mobile devices is set to become a reality in the EU.
The European Parliament voted that all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU will have to be equipped with a USB-C charging port by the end of 2024.
The proposal was agreed upon in June but was formally approved today (4 October) with 602 votes in favour, 13 against and eight abstentions.
Under the new rules, portable devices including headphones, headsets, keyboards, handheld game consoles, mice, earbuds and portable speakers will have to be equipped with the same charging port, regardless of the manufacturer.
The EU said this will let consumers use a single charger for a range of small and medium-sized portable electronic devices, which will benefit users and help to cut down on waste.
It is estimated by the EU that the reuse of chargers will help consumers save up to €250m a year on unnecessary purchases. Disposed of and unused chargers also account for an estimated 11,000 tonnes of e-waste annually in the EU.
European Parliament rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba said the common charger will “finally become a reality” after waiting “more than 10 years for these rules”.
“We can finally leave the current plethora of chargers in the past,” Agius Saliba added. “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.”
Under the new rules, consumers will be able to choose whether or not they wish to purchase a new charger with every device they buy.
Charging speeds will also be harmonised for devices that support fast charging, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger.
Laptops have until spring 2026 before the rules apply to these devices.
The news will likely be unwelcome to Apple. In 2020, the tech giant said that any move to standardise charging ports in the EU would force it to stop producing its own Lightning charging cable.
The tech giant claimed that making its Lightning cables redundant in the EU would result in an “unprecedented volume of electronic waste”. The company is reportedly testing future iPhone models that replace the Lightning port with a USB-C connector.
10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.