European Commission’s Universal Charger Plans May Force Companies Like Apple to Offer USB-C

The European Commission plans to make USB-C the standard charging option for electronic devices such as phones and tablets in an effort to reduce e-waste.

In an effort to reduce e-waste, the European Commission recently announced plans to make USB-C the universal charging option across all electronic devices.

As a result, companies like Apple that don’t currently offer USB-C charging options would potentially need to add USB-C as an additional option, or replace Lightning with USB-C completely, in order to continue selling devices in Europe.

European Commission’s Universal Charger Plans May Force Companies Like Apple to Offer USB-C 


Proposed legislation from the European Commission regarding USB-C as a universal charging option has caught the attention of many Apple owners in Europe as it may indicate alternative charging options are on the way.

Currently, most modern electronic devices on the market offer USB-C, with the exception of devices from companies like Apple.

To help consumers avoid inconveniences like switching between chargers and the use of adapters, and in an effort to reduce e-waste, the Commission plans to make USB-C the standard charging option for all electronic devices. 

With this, it sounds like Apple would either need to offer USB-C on their devices in the future in conjunction with Lightning (or in place of it), or get creative with wireless charging. 

While this shift in Apple potentially offering USB-C currently centers around Europe rather than places like the United States, we could potentially see a ripple effect that results in Apple offering USB-C on all of its devices not just in Europe, but everywhere. 

“Today, the Commission takes an important step against e-waste and consumer inconvenience, caused by the prevalence of different, incompatible chargers for electronic devices.

Years of working with industry on a voluntary approach already brought the number of mobile phone chargers from 30 to 3 within the last decade, but could not deliver a complete solution.

The Commission is now putting forward legislation to establish a common charging solution for all relevant devices.

With today’s proposal for a revised Radio Equipment Directive, the charging port and fast charging technology will be harmonised: USB-C will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and handheld video game consoles.

In addition, the Commission proposes to unbundle the sale of chargers from the sale of electronic devices. This will improve consumers’ convenience and reduce the environmental footprint associated with the production and disposal of chargers, thereby supporting the green and digital transitions.” 

The proposal from the European Commission
also features a bulleted list that further sums up what they’re proposing, which reads as follows: 

  • A harmonised charging port for electronic devices: USB-C will be the common port. This will allow consumers to charge their devices with the same USB-C charger, regardless of the device brand.
  • Harmonised fast charging technology will help prevent that different producers unjustifiably limit the charging speed and will help to ensure that charging speed is the same when using any compatible charger for a device.
  • Unbundling the sale of a charger from the sale of the electronic device: consumers will be able to purchase a new electronic device without a new charger. This will limit the number of unwanted chargers purchased or left unused. Reducing production and disposal of new chargers is estimated to reduce the amount of electronic waste by almost a thousand tonnes’ yearly.
  • Improved information for consumers: producers will need to provide relevant information about charging performance, including information on the power required by the device and if it supports fast charging. This will make it easier for consumers to see if their existing chargers meet the requirements of their new device or help them to select a compatible charger. Combined with the other measures, this would help consumers limit the number of new chargers purchased and help them save €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases.

It’s worth noting that right now, these plans are just that, plans. Nothing has been implemented yet as the proposal needs to first be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

Should this happen, companies would also be given a transition period of 24 months from the date this legislation is adopted in order to adapt. Essentially, 24 months for companies that don’t offer USB-C like Apple to figure out what they’re going to do. 

The legislation has a good chance of passing, as reported by outlets like IGN, because the European Parliament has already voted in favor of standardized chargers in the past. We imagine voting on this issue will be similar. 

With that said, we’ll be sure to keep you updated on whether this passes and what the passing of this legislation would mean for companies like Apple. 

Until then, we’re curious to hear your thoughts on the European Commission’s plans to make USB-C a universal charging port for electronic devices like phones, tablets, and handheld gaming devices? 

Are you in favor, or are you an Apple owner who likes the Lightning system and would like to see it continue to be offered? Let us know in the comments below, and on our social media channels including Facebook and Twitter

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About the Author

Morgan Shaver

Morgan is a writer, metalhead, horror lover, and indie game enthusiast. When it comes to games, they love nothing more than to wax poetic about all the latest and greatest indies to anyone who'll listen. They're also a Tetris fanatic who's fiercely competitive in games like Tetris 99... and all games in general. But mostly Tetris. You can follow Morgan on Twitter @Author_MShaver