European Union’s New Rule: One USB-C Port to Rule All Device

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European Union's New Rule: One USB-C Port to Rule All Device
European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton speaks during a media conference on a common charging solution for mobile phones at EU headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. The European Union unveiled plans Thursday that would require smartphone makers to adopt a single charging method for mobile devices. (Image via Associated Press, Photo by Thierry Monasse)

A new rule of the European Union mandates all consumer electronic devices should be sold with a USB-C port for charging in the European market, according to European Commission today’s press release.

“European customers have been annoyed long enough with unsuitable chargers building up in their drawers,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age. “We gave industry plenty of time to develop their own solutions; now is the time for regulation to establish a common charger. This is a significant victory for our customers and the environment, and it is in keeping with our green and digital goals,” she added in the statement.

“Chargers power all of our most essential electronic devices,” said Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton. “As the number of devices on the market grows, so does the number of chargers available, many of which are either non-interchangeable or unnecessary. We’re going to put a stop to it. With our plan, European consumers will be able to charge all of their portable electronics with a single charger, which is a significant step toward increasing convenience and reducing waste,” he added.

“Today, the Commission takes a significant step forward in the fight against e-waste and consumer dissatisfaction caused by the widespread use of incompatible chargers for electronic devices. Years of voluntary collaboration with industry reduced the number of mobile phone chargers from 30 to three in the last decade, but it was not enough to provide a complete answer.” In a news statement, the European Commission announced, “The Commission is now putting up regulations to establish a single charging solution for all relevant devices.”

“The charging port and fast charging technology will be harmonized with today’s proposal for a revised Radio Equipment Directive: USB-C will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and handheld gaming consoles. Furthermore, the Commission suggests that the sale of chargers be separated from the selling of electronic devices. The European Commission stated in the statement, “This would increase customer convenience and minimize the environmental impact associated with the production and disposal of chargers, thereby helping the green and digital transitions.”

European Union's New Rule: One USB-C Port to Rule All Device — GadgetBond
One port to rule them all (Image | European Commission)
European Union's New Rule: One USB-C Port to Rule All Device — GadgetBond
Image | European Commission

This is a brief notice from European Commission to all devices makers:

  • A harmonised charging port for electronic devices: 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.
  • Harmonised 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.
  • 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. Reducing production and disposal of new chargers is estimated to reduce the amount of electronic waste by almost a thousand tonnes’ yearly.
  • 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. Combined with the other measures, this would help consumers limit the number of new chargers purchased and help them save €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases.

“To eventually have a common charger, full interoperability is required on both ends of the cable: the electronic device and the external power supply,” they noted in their statement. “Today’s solution will accomplish device interoperability, which is by far the more difficult problem. The revision of the Commission’s Ecodesign Regulation will address the interoperability of the external power supply. This will be launched later this year in order for its implementation to coincide with today’s proposal.”

Now the biggest question is “What are the next steps from Apple?” OR “Will Apple change its mind and bring USB-C charging for all of its future devices?” Let us know your thoughts about Apple’s proprietary connector environment in our comment box below.