By the end of 2024, all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port. From the spring of 2026, the obligation will extend to laptops as well. The new law, adopted in Tuesday’s plenary session by 602 votes to 13 with 8 abstentions, is part of a wider EU effort to reduce e-waste and empower consumers to make more sustainable decisions.
Under the new rules, consumers will no longer need a different charger every time they buy a new device, as they will be able to use one charger for a range of small and medium-sized portable electronic devices.
Regardless of manufacturer, all new cell phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and earphones, handheld video game consoles and portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, headphones and laptops that charge via a wired cable, operate with a power of up to 100 watts, it will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port.
All devices that support fast charging will now have the same charging speed, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger.
Encouraging technological innovation
As wireless charging becomes more widespread, the European Commission will have to harmonize interoperability requirements by the end of 2024, to avoid a negative impact on consumers and the environment. This will also get rid of the so-called technological “lock-in” effect, whereby the consumer becomes dependent on a single producer.
Better information and choice for consumers
Dedicated labels will inform consumers about the charging features of the new devices, making it easier for them to see if their existing chargers are compatible. Customers will also be able to make an informed choice about whether to purchase a new charger with the new product.
These new obligations will lead to more charger reuse and will help consumers save up to €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases. Discarded and unused chargers account for around 11,000 tonnes of e-waste per year in the EU.
Parliamentary rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba (S&D, MT) said: “A common charger will finally become a reality in Europe. We have been waiting for these rules for more than ten years, but we can finally leave the current multitude of chargers in the past. This future-proof legislation enables the development of innovative charging solutions in the future and will benefit everyone – from frustrated consumers to our vulnerable environment. These are difficult times for politics, but we have shown that the EU has not run out of ideas or solutions to improve the lives of millions in Europe and inspire other parts of the world to follow suit.
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The Council will have to formally approve the Directive before it is published in the Official Journal of the EU. It will take effect 20 days after publication. Member states will then have 12 months to transpose the rules and 12 months after the end of the period to implement them. The new rules would not apply to products placed on the market before the implementation date.
In the past decade, Parliament has repeatedly called for the introduction of a common charger. Despite previous efforts to work with industry to reduce the number of mobile chargers, voluntary measures have not produced concrete results for EU consumers. The Commission finally submitted the legislative proposal on September 23, 2021.