The European Parliament has overwhelmingly approved a law introducing a common charger for small and medium devices, including smartphones and laptops.
A total of 602 MEPs voted in favour of the amendment with just 13 MEPs voting against. Eight abstained. The decision, announced by EP President Roberta Metsola, was met with rapturous applause.
The new law, set to be implemented by 2024, aims to reduce electronic waste and save consumers some money.
Small and medium devices will all have to use a USB-C type charger, removing the need for consumers to have more than one cable.
This directive is spearheaded by Maltese MEP Alex Agius Saliba, who celebrated the vote by writing "what I promised, I delivered". It now has to be approved by the Council, which is made up of ministers from all EU states.
First proposed in 2009, the EP in 2014 unsuccessfully advocated for a common charger for all mobile phones during negotiations of the Radio Equipment Directive.
Tech companies promised European institutions that they would voluntarily adopt a common charger in the past but the promises were not kept, several MEPs said during the plenary debate.
Once the European Council adopts the directive, devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, digital cameras, earbuds, headphones, portable gaming consoles, portable speakers, portable mice, portable printers, and e-readers, will all be using USB-C chargers as of 2024.
Addressing the plenary, Agius Saliba said, “this legislation will help environmental sustainability by producing around 11 tonnes of e-waste less each year and give businesses and consumers a better deal”.
Following the directive’s adoption, member states will have two years to implement it.
In a press conference following the vote, Agius Saliba clarified that the regulation will apply to laptops from 2026.
The directive will also give consumers the right to opt-out of purchasing a charger when buying a new device.
“We are estimating that consumers will make a sustainable purchase while spending much less on their electronic equipment,” Agius Saliba said.
He said the law will make a tangible difference to people’s lives as a quarter of a billion euros will stay in people's pockets.
“Thank you for acting in unity,” he told MEPs.
Apple, which, together with other tech companies had opposed the measure, is already ditching its proprietary Lightning port on some of its latest devices sold in the EU.
Several MEPs in the plenary said lobbying efforts from tech giants have hampered the introduction of a common charger, but the EU has now decided to be strong.
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