Updated 4.39pm

European Union plans to introduce a universal charging standard for most electronic devices will move ahead after MEPs voted to push ahead with the plans on Wednesday. 

MEPs in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee voted 43 to 2 to approve the report tabled by Maltese MEP Alex Agius Saliba, giving him a mandate to start negotiating with the EU Council and European Commission on a final text.

Once those negotiations are concluded and the law passed, companies will have nine months to put the new rules into practice. 

The proposal would require all mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers sold in the EU to be charged via USB-C, introducing a common charging cable and dramatically cutting electronic waste.

Manufacturers who use proprietary charging standards, such as Apple, will also have to make the switch for their EU-sold devices. 

to push ahead with proposed legislation that would see most mobile electronic devices adopt a single common charger

In a press conference on Wednesday, Agius Saliba said that research indicated that some 11,000 to 13,000 tonnes of electronic waste is being generated per year as a result of a variety of different chargers being put on the market.

While a voluntary initiative taken ten years ago had drastically reduced the amount of waste generated, three different chargers remain on the market when most devices could be easily charged by one, he said. 

Another key concern is the sheer volume of chargers and cables bundled with new devices, with one in three consumers saying that they had not even opened the packaged charger to use it. 

“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,” Agius Saliba said. 

Agius Saliba's report expanded on the EU's original plans to ensure devices such as laptops will also be covered by the law. He said he hoped the member states would also agree to also include smart watches, wearable and health trackers, personal care devices and lighting 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. 

MEPs have also given the EU Commission until 2026 to adopt a universal standard for wireless charging, to prevent fragmentation in that market and leave no open loopholes for manufacturers. 

The legislation will also come with mandatory information requirements, with labels guiding consumers with information on the required chargers for a device. 

A review clause will also kick in every three years in order to propose amendments and keep up with new innovations on the market. 

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