The European Parliament and the EU member states have reached political agreement on the European Commission's proposal on a common charging solution, which it adopted in September 2021.
As of 2024, all new handheld mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, handheld videogame consoles, headphones, headsets, portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, and earbuds will have to be equipped with a USB-C charging port. The deadline for laptops is 2026.
The European Commission says that in 2020, approximately 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in the EU. However, due to incompatible chargers on the market, more than a third of consumers reported having experiencing problems, while spending approximately €2.4 billion annually on additional standalone chargers. At the same time, according to the Commission, disposed of and unused chargers contribute to around 11,000 tonnes of e-waste every year.
The political agreement extends and confirms the original proposal as follows:
- The charging port and fast charging technology will be harmonised: first, USB-C will be the common port. This will allow consumers to charge their devices with the same USB-C charger, regardless of the device brand. At the same time, harmonising fast charging technology will help prevent that different producers unjustifiably limit the charging speed and will help to ensure that charging speed is the same when using any compatible charger for a device. These rules will now apply to a range of electronic devices mentioned above. More devices may be included in the future following regular assessment of the market by the Commission.
- Unbundling the sale of a charger from the sale of the electronic device: consumers will be able to purchase a new electronic device without a new charger. This will limit the number of unwanted chargers purchased or left unused. The results produced and the possible extension of the measures beyond the actual charger to the cable will be assessed during the implementation.
- Improved information for consumers: producers will need to provide relevant information about charging performance, including information on the power required by the device and if it supports fast charging. This will make it easier for consumers to see if their existing chargers meet the requirements of their new device or help them to select a compatible charger.
- Providing the means for future harmonised wireless charging solutions: as the technology is evolving rapidly and to limit a potential future fragmentation of the market, the Commission will assess the different technologies available in view of a possible future harmonisation, and will request to European Standardisation Organisations that the appropriate solution is translated into a harmonised standard.
The agreement also aims to ensure that the common charger solutions can be implemented without delay, especially given the widely available technological solutions and what the Commission says is ample time already given to industry to adapt. There will be a transition period of 24 months from official adoption for most categories of products except for laptops which will have a transition period of 40 months.