The European Union is moving forward with legislation requiring USB-C charging on a variety of consumer electronics devices. Today, the European Parliament formally endorsed the agreement it reached with the Council of the EU in September. The Council of the EU must then formally approve the agreement, which will then be published in the Official Journal of the EU.
Parliament’s announcement confirmed a timetable and other categories of affected devices. Legislation requires a USB-C port on all phones, tablets, digital cameras, earphones, headsets, headphones, portable speakers, portable video game consoles, e-readers, keyboards, mice and navigation systems sold in the EU , use wired charging and supports delivering power up to 100W “by the end of 2024”, Parliament said.
Laptops will be required to have USB-C charging “starting in the spring of 2026,” the announcement says.
Legislation also requires all fast-charging devices to use the same charging speed. This rule will be enforced with “dedicated labels” describing load capacities.
Once the rule is published, EU member states will have one year to transpose the rules, followed by another year to join. The law only applies to products released after this time.
Parliament said the vote passed with 602 votes in favour, 13 against and 8 abstentions.
Wireless charging regulations could follow
When the EU announced plans to require USB-C charging in September 2021, some critics, including Apple, said such regulations could stifle innovation. The European Commission has said it will work with providers to adapt its regulations to new technologies, if it deems the technology worthy. The EU’s universal charging mandate may one day require a different type of charging than USB-C, for example.
Showing anticipation, the European Parliament announcement briefly mentioned wireless charging, although it did not specify how the EU government might attempt to regulate it.
“…The European Commission will need to harmonize interoperability requirements by the end of 2024, to avoid having a negative impact on consumers and the environment,” the Parliament statement said. “It will also eliminate the so-called technology ‘lock-in’ effect, whereby a consumer becomes dependent on a single manufacturer.”
Wireless charging is a potential route around the EU’s USB-C requirement for companies that strongly oppose using the technology in its products, like Apple and its iPhones. Although there have been rumors that Apple will make a USB-C iPhone, the company prefers its Lightning connector, and although EU law does not prohibit the proprietary connector, it would require USB-C alongside . However, an iPhone solely dependent on wireless charging would be impractical due to cost, data transfer issues, and chassis durability. Additionally, it looks like the EU government could eventually regulate wireless charging as well.
For what it’s worth, the current iPad Air, iPad Mini, and iPad Pro all charge via USB-C instead of Lightning, so Apple has already shown its willingness to adopt the oval-shaped connector.
Parliament’s announcement reiterated the EU government’s goals of reducing e-waste and “empowering consumers to make more sustainable choices” with the USB-C mandate.
The governing body estimates that the legislation will “lead to greater re-use of chargers and help consumers save up to €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases”.
“Disposed and unused chargers represent around 11,000 tonnes of e-waste per year (PDF) in the EU,” the statement said.
Following the EU’s lead, other parts of the world have begun to examine how they regulate the charging of electronic devices. Brazil is considering a USB-C policy for phones and has banned the sale of chargerless iPhones while encouraging Apple to implement USB-C charging. US lawmakers have also pushed for a universal charger policy.