Mobile phones and numerous other electronic devices must have a standard charging socket in the EU from mid-2024. Negotiators from the EU states and the European Parliament agreed on USB-C as the standard charging socket, as the head of the negotiations, Anna Cavazzini (Greens), said in Strasbourg on Tuesday. According to you, the regulation applies to smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones and portable speakers. The French Council Presidency also confirmed an agreement.
keyboards and mice
In addition, Parliament was able to get through the negotiations that, for example, laptops, e-readers, keyboards and computer mice, sat navs, smart watches and electronic toys are also included, as long as the devices are large enough for a corresponding connection – although there is one for laptops longer transition period. It will also be possible in the future to buy the device and charger as well as the charging cable separately. The EU Parliament had staked out its position in April.
The EU states, on the other hand, had achieved in the negotiations that the new law would only apply from mid-2024, it said. Parliament wanted the rules to come into force earlier. Both the EU countries and the European Parliament still have to approve the agreement, which was already apparent on Tuesday morning. But that is considered a formality.
The Association of Municipal Enterprises (VKU) welcomed the outcome of the negotiations: “The best waste is still that which is not created in the first place.” The project saves consumers’ resources and nerves, said a spokesman. The companies organized in the VKU are responsible for waste disposal, among other things.
Legal requirements for charging sockets in smartphones and other devices have been the subject of debate for a long time. More than ten years ago, the commission brought the charging cable issue up for the first time. 14 manufacturers – including Apple – agreed to a uniform standard for mobile phone power supplies in a voluntary commitment. When it comes to the sockets in smartphones and tablet computers, three of what used to be several dozen types remain: USB-C, Apple’s Lightning connector and micro-USB.
According to the EU Commission, the regulation could save almost 1000 tons of electronic waste. Currently, an estimated 11,000 tons of electronic waste is generated annually from discarded and unused chargers. However, critics fear that the EU approach could come to nothing, since old chargers can no longer be used and USB-C has become the standard for electronic devices more and more in the past.
Update 07.06.2022 2:03 p.m
The digital association Bitkom remains skeptical: The EU lags behind the technical development by years. “Political commitment to a technical standard will not reduce e-waste, but above all will slow down innovations and run counter to the important principle of openness to technology,” criticizes Bitkom boss Bernhard Rohleder. “Of course we have to drastically reduce e-waste worldwide. Uniform so-called ‘charging sockets’ for smartphones, tablets and other devices from 2024 will hardly contribute to this important goal.”
The EU is years behind in terms of technical development, the association emphasizes, pointing out that USB-C is primarily a data interface that can also be used to charge a device. There are “only three standards” for smartphones and tablets anyway – in addition to USB-C, there are Micro-USB and Lightning. “The countless real charging sockets that are used by other small electrical devices, on the other hand, are not affected at all and there will continue to be an unmanageable variety,” explained Rohleder.
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