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EU Proposes Mandatory USB-C on All Devices

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has announced plans to force smartphone and other electronics manufacturers to fit a common USB-C charging port on their devices. The proposal is likely to have the biggest impact on Apple, which continues to use its proprietary Lightning connector rather than the USB-C connector adopted by most of its competitors.

In addition to phones, the rules will apply to other devices like tablets, headphones, portable speakers, videogame consoles, and cameras. Manufacturers will also be forced to make their fast-charging standards interoperable, and to provide information to customers about what charging standards their device supports.

Under this proposal, customers will be able to buy new devices without an included charger. The proposals only cover devices using wired, not wireless, chargers, EU commissioner Thierry Breton said in a press conference, adding that “there is plenty of room for innovation on wireless.”

Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a statement, “Chargers power all our most essential electronic devices. With more and more devices, more and more chargers are sold that are not interchangeable or not necessary. We are putting an end to that. With our proposal, European consumers will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics – an important step to increase convenience and reduce waste.”

A spokesperson for the Commission subsequently confirmed to The Verge that a USB-C port is only mandatory for devices that charge using a cable. But, if a device charges exclusively via wireless, like Apple’s rumored portless iPhone, there’d be no requirement for a USB-C charging port.

The revised Radio Equipment Directive proposal will need to pass a vote in the European Parliament to become law. If adopted, manufacturers will eventually have 24 months to comply with the new rules. The parliament has already voted in favor of new rules on a common charger in early 2020, indicating that today’s proposal should have broad support.

Today’s proposal is focused on the charging port on the device end, but the Commission says it eventually hopes to ensure “full interoperability” on both ends of the cable. The power supply end will be addressed in a review to be launched later this year.

Today’s proposal is focused on the charging port on the device end, but the Commission says it eventually hopes to ensure “full interoperability” on both ends of the cable. The power supply end will be addressed in a review to be launched later this year.

The proposals follow a vote in the European Parliament in January 2020 when lawmakers voted for new rules on common chargers. As of 2016, the amount of electronic waste produced across the bloc amounted to around 12.3 million metric tons.

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