European politicians on the brink of requiring USB-C in all smartphones

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European Union officials have voted in favor of a long-planned proposal to require Apple and all tech companies to use USB-C as a regular charger and add a new requirement for a wireless charging standard.

The European Union has been urging manufacturers to all use the same chargers for their smartphones and other devices for more than a decade. The EU’s plans to formally propose new legislation were adopted in January 2022, but needed further support.

Now MEPs (members of the European Parliament) in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection have voted 43 to 2 to support the proposals – adding significant refinements.

According to an EU press release, the recently revised proposals include a call “for the interoperability of wireless charging technologies by 2026”.

It’s not clear what the proposals specifically address for wireless charging. The Qi standard is already effectively universal and is supported by a wide range of products.

“With half a billion portable device chargers shipped in Europe each year, generating 11,000 to 13,000 tons of e-waste, everyone would benefit from a single charger for cell phones and other small and medium-sized electronic devices,” said Alex Agius Saliba of the EU. “Ot will help the environment, advance the reuse of old electronics, save money and reduce unnecessary costs and inconvenience for both businesses and consumers.”

The revised proposals contain requirements to improve communication with “dedicated labels”. More importantly, the EU now wants the requirements for common chargers and wireless charging to apply to more devices, including laptops and other electronics.

Previously, Apple was among those who objected to the EU’s plans to demand a common charger.

“We believe that regulations that enforce compliance for the type of connector built into all smartphones stifle rather than encourage innovation, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole,” Apple said in 2020. “We hope the Commission will continue to look for a solution that does not limit the industry’s ability to innovate and bring exciting new technology to customers.”

The new vote approved these revisions to the existing proposals and the whole package is now due for a vote in the European Parliament plenary in May 2022. After that, the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee says it will be “ready to start discussions with EU governments on the final shape of the legislation.”

The final implementation of legislation will not take place until the text is finalized and the legal challenges are completed. The implementation is likely to take years. The EU implementation of micro USB as standard was fully implemented after the introduction of USB-C to the market.

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