Smartphones and tablets: Brussels wants to impose a single charger

It is an idea which is not old, but which is gaining ground. The European Commission unveiled a draft directive on universal chargers on Thursday. This text aims to require manufacturers by 2024 to provide their devices with at least one USB-C port and to ensure that all chargers are interchangeable.

The universal charger, proposed in 2009 by the European Commission, has so far encountered reluctance from the industry. The first non-binding pressures had nevertheless made it possible to reduce the number of models and technologies on the market.

From 30 in 2009, they have grown to three. Today, devices are equipped with either a Micro USB connector, which has long been installed on the majority of phones, or USB-C, a newer connection, or Lightning, used by Apple.

However, this reduction is not sufficient for the Commission, which aims for real unification. But Apple still opposes it. The Californian giant, which reacted this Thursday by asserting that “this regulation would stifle rather than encourage innovation and harm consumers in Europe“, estimated at the beginning of 2020 that a universal charger instead of its own technology “would have a direct negative impact by disrupting the hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories used by (its) customers”.

Especially since the American multinational sells its chargers up to twice as expensive as its competitors. “By adopting USB-C, Apple would become a brand like any other. It which has a culture of differentiation, indeed, it would lose that asset”, believes Laure Renouard, journalist of the specialized magazine Digital.

For the European institution, a single charger would on the contrary simplify the life of users by preventing the production of chargers from continuing to increase. The diversity of chargers would thus represent 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste per year. European elected officials are also calling for the compulsory sale of chargers with each device to be banned.

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According to the echoes, the text proposed by the Commission should receive a favorable reception in the European Parliament, which itself adopted a resolution on this subject by an overwhelming majority in January 2020. The project must be completed in December with additional measures on the recycling of chargers. , with possible take-back obligations under consideration for manufacturers.

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