The European dream and, basically, that of every citizen who lives minimally surrounded by technological devices is already one step away from becoming a reality: there will be a universal charger in community territory. The European Parliament and the Council (the body that represents the 27 governments) have reached a provisional agreement on Tuesday to require, on a mandatory basis, that mobile phones and other devices that are marketed in the territory of the European Union are compatible with a charger USB type C, a connector already common in many devices. The new regulation, which requires the modification of a directive and has yet to be formally validated, will enter into force two years after being published.
The regulation not only covers mobile phones and smartphones, but also unfolds its effects on 15 types of small and medium-sized electronic products, such as tablets, electronic books, headphones, digital cameras, portable video game consoles and portable speakers, regardless of their manufacturer. The regulation will also affect laptops, but the production companies will have in this case an additional 16 months to undertake the mandatory changes (that is, a total of 40 months from the formal approval).
The agreement reached also forces companies to allow consumers to choose whether they want to buy the device with or without a charger and harmonizes the charging speed for those devices that support fast charging, which allows users to charge them at the same speed with any compatible charger.
With the handshake achieved this Tuesday, a long history of community debates on a myth that seemed unattainable is put to an end. The first proposals for a harmonized charger date back to 2009. “We have been waiting 10 years!” exclaimed the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, on Tuesday, who has fought intensely to carry out the agreement of the two community co-legislators , after launching the Commission proposal nine months ago, which has served as the basis for the measure adopted. “Everyone said that it was not possible”, added the commissioner “And now we have the support of Parliament and the Council”.
Breton stressed that the initiative not only seeks to make life more comfortable, predictable and less cumbersome for European citizens, who have three mobile chargers on average and use two of them regularly, according to figures provided by the European Parliament. The almost mythological idea of a universal charger also means saving economic and environmental costs. It is estimated that phone charging devices were responsible for around 11,000 tons of electronic waste in 2018, according to Commission figures, and their harmonization could lead to savings of 250 million a year, by avoiding useless purchases of chargers. The new measure, once in force, will mean a saving of 600 tons of raw materials, as indicated by the Commissioner of French origin, at a key moment in which the supply chains are on high alert after the abrupt awakening of the pandemic and with a war in Europe.
The Social Democrat MEP Alex Agius Saliba, rapporteur of the European Parliament in the negotiation with the Council, has celebrated the provisional agreement: “European consumers have been frustrated for a long time”, he has indicated in an appearance. “We have made the common charger a reality in Europe.”
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.