Brussels, 20 April 2022
Fewer redundant cables and chargers: good for environment and consumers
USB Type-C port as new standard for portable device
MEPs also want harmonisation for wireless charging
MEPs support a common charger for portable electronic devices, reducing e-waste and making the use of different mobile phones, tablets and digital cameras more convenient.
On Wednesday the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee adopted its position on the revised Radio Equipment Directive with 43 votes in favour (2 against).
The new rules would make sure consumers no longer need a new charger and cable every time they purchase a new device, and can use one charger for all of their small and medium-sized electronic gadgets. Mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, rechargeable via a wired cable, would have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of the manufacturer. Exemptions would apply only for devices that are too small to have a USB Type-C port, such as smart watches, health trackers, and some sports equipment.
This revision is part of a broader EU effort to address product sustainability, in particular of electronics on the EU market, and to reduce electronic waste.
Clear information on charging
MEPs also want to see clear information and labelling on new devices about charging options, as well as whether a product includes a charger. This would, they say, help to avoid confusion and ease purchasing decisions for consumers that often own several different devices and do not always need additional chargers.
With the growing usage of wireless charging, MEPs want the European Commission to present a strategy by the end of 2026 that allows for minimum interoperability of any new charging solutions. The goal is to avoid a new fragmentation in the market, to continue to reduce environmental waste, ensure consumer convenience and avoid so-called “lock-in” effects created by proprietary charging solutions.
Rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba (MT, S&D) said: “With half a billion chargers for portable devices shipped in Europe each year, generating 11,000 to 13,000 tonnes of e-waste, a single charger for mobile phones and other small and medium electronic devices would benefit everyone. It will help the environment, further help the re-use of old electronics, save money, and reduce unnecessary costs and inconvenience for both businesses and consumers. We are proposing a truly comprehensive policy intervention, building on the Commission’s proposal by calling for the interoperability of wireless charging technologies by 2026 and improving information given to consumers with dedicated labels. We are also expanding the proposal’s scope by adding more products, such as laptops, that will need to comply with the new rules.”
Once Parliament as a whole has approved this draft negotiating position at the May plenary session, MEPs will be ready to start talks with EU governments on the final shape of the legislation.
Parliament and its Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee have been asking for a common charger solution over the last decade, continuously calling on the Commission to act. The legislative proposal was tabled on 23 September 2021. The Council adopted its negotiating position on 26 January.
S&D Group: Good news for consumers: a common charger for all mobile devices will be a reality
Consumers will no longer have to buy a charger together with their new mobile device. Instead, they will be able to use their old one, thus saving money and better protecting the environment from plastic and electronic waste. This will be possible thanks to the adoption of the report on the common charger for all mobile devices in the European Parliament’s committee on the internal market and consumer protection. The author of the report is S&D vice-president Alex Agius Saliba and his report received overwhelming support, not just from the entire S&D Group, but also from other political groups. If the Commission and the member states agree with his report in the upcoming interinstitutional negotiations, companies will have up to 9 months to put the new rules into practice after the entry into force of the new legislation.
Alex Agius Saliba, vice-president of the S&D Group and European Parliament negotiator on the issue, said:
“For us, Socialists and Democrats, it is a matter of principle to make a common charger a reality. It is good for consumers, it is good for the environment. Thus, we save money and also spare the planet from 10,000 to 13,000 tonnes of the so-called e-waste. The legislative proposal by the European Commission was a good basis to work from. Now we enter into negotiations with the EU member states to have a common charger for all mobile phones and similar devices including tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handled videogame consoles and portable speakers. In a nutshell, everything that is recharged with a wired cable should be equipped with a USB-type C port, regardless of the device brand.
“Our group has been fighting for this for more than a decade. I am proud we enlarged the scope of the legislation in question and added other products to be covered by the new rules, such as laptops, e-readers, earbuds, keyboards, mice, screens, printers, portable navigations, digital radios and electronic toys. I hope the member states will agree with our proposal to also include smart watches, wearable and health trackers, personal care devices and lightening equipment in the scope of the legislation, unless their size is too small and they cannot be adapted to be equipped with a USB-type C port.
“The S&D Group considerably improved the European Commission’s legislative proposal by improving information and labels for consumers and adding provisions on wireless charging, as apparently this is the next step in technology. For this reason we ask the Commission to set the standards by December 2026, taking into account the most appropriate technical solutions and introduce interoperability between different wireless technologies. We are completely aware of the speed of high-tech development and we ask the European Commission to evaluate all new elements every three years and propose any changes, should any be necessary.”
Renew Europe: The common charger will save consumer’s money and reduce waste
APRIL 20, 2022
The Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament welcomes today’s adoption by the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection of the report on common chargers for mobile phones and similar devices, which implements the USB-C standard regardless of the device’s brand.
This is a clear victory for European citizens as well as the environment and will save substantial amounts of consumers’ money whilst preventing 1000 tonnes a year in unnecessary waste.
Renew Europe has long championed such an initiative and will work tirelessly to make it as ambitious and future-proof as possible by extending the scope of the Regulation to cover a wider range of products.
Renew Europe MEP, Róża Thun und Hohenstein (Polska 2050, Poland), shadow rapporteur on this file in IMCO Committee, said:
“Great projects consist often of small bricks. I am happy that we delivered this element, which will facilitate the life of consumers and reduce the amount of e-waste produced each year. We also managed to extend the scope of the directive – we added for example laptops, e-readers and earbuds to the list of devices which will be equipped with USB-C port.”
ECR: Common charger to bring relief to consumers’ everyday life
“The European standardisation of chargers for the devices like tablets, e-readers, some laptops and smartphones makes a lot of sense and will make everyday life easier for all of us,” says ECR shadow rapporteur Kosma Złotowski after today’s vote in the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee. Parliamentarians decided that from mid-2024, there will be only one standard USB-C connector for small and medium electrical appliances.
For Złotowski, it’s a consumer-friendly move, yet the ECR MEP cautions that “consumers need to keep in mind that a common plug for chargers does not mean the end of different charging capacities. In fact, charging speed may vary for different devices even when using the same plug.
“Therefore, consumers need to be careful that the same charger is not perfect for each device. In fact, the charging speed will vary for different devices even when used with the same connector. That’s why the ECR Group tabled an amendment that requires the Commission to work on a graphical indication label that will guide the consumers and help them them acquire charging device that best fits their needs.
“It is important that we do not compromise further innovation through standardisation and that we continue to provide ample choice for consumers”, Złotowski added.
Source – ECR (via e-mail)