The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favor of enforcing USB-C as a common charging port across a wide range of consumer electronic devices, including iPhones and AirPods, by the end of 2024. The proposal will force all consumer electronics manufacturers who sell their products in Europe to ensure that their devices feature a USB-C port.
According to the press statement issued by the European Parliament, out of the 623 total votes, the proposal, known as a directive, received 602 votes in favor, 13 votes against, and 8 abstentions.
In 2018 when the European Commission attempted to reach a final resolution on this issue but it failed to come into law. At the time, Apple warned that forcing a common charging port on the industry would stifle innovation and create electronic waste as consumers would be forced to switch to new cables.
The EU’s effort resumed in 2021, with the European Commission spearheading a refreshed version of the directive. In April 2022, the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee voted to support the directive, with 43 votes in favor and just two against.
In June 2022, the EU’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection reached an agreement to introduce the directive to the European Parliament.
Now by the end of 2024, a wide range of consumer electronic devices in the EU will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port. This “common port” will be a world-first statute to impact Apple in particular since it widely uses the Lightning Connector instead of USB-C.
Regardless of their manufacturer, all new mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones, videogame consoles, portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, earbuds, and laptops among others that are rechargeable via a wired cable, operating with a power delivery of up to 100 Watts, will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port.
Exemptions will apply for devices that are too small to offer a USB-C port, such as smartwatches, health trackers, and some sports equipment, but the legislation is expected to be expanded to other devices over time.
With this rule devices that support fast charging will have the same charging speed, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger. In addition, the EU also seeks to ensure that wireless charging solutions are interoperable as the technology evolves over time.
The European Council must approve the directive so that it can be published in the EU Official Journal. It will come into force 20 days after publication in the EU Official Journal and its requirements will start to apply to new devices after 24 months. Products that went on sale before the date of application will be exempt and can continue to be sold after that point.
The Council has also stated that this obligation will extend to laptops starting from 2026.
The new law, adopted by the plenary is part of a broader EU effort to reduce e-waste and empower consumers to make more sustainable choices while addressing product sustainability and putting to use different devices more conveniently.