Insights European Commission proposes a common charger for all electronic devices

The Commission has adopted a proposal to amend the Radio Equipment Directive (2014/53/EU) to harmonise the charging port and fast charging technology for electronic devices. The Commission says that years of working with industry on a voluntary basis brought down the number of mobile phone chargers from 30 to 3 but could not deliver a complete solution. Accordingly, the Commission has decided to legislate to establish a common charging solution for all relevant devices.

Under the revised Directive USB-C will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld videogame consoles. In addition, the Commission proposes to unbundle the sale of chargers from the sale of electronic devices. This will, the Commission says, improve consumers’ convenience and reduce the environmental footprint associated with the production and disposal of chargers, thereby supporting the green and digital transitions.

The Commission is proposing:

  • a harmonised charging port for electronic devices: USB-C will be the common port, allowing consumers to charge their devices with the same USB-C charger, regardless of the device brand;
  • harmonised fast charging technology: to help prevent different producers unjustifiably limiting the charging speed and 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 to limit the number of unwanted chargers purchased or left unused; and
  • improved information for consumers: producers will have 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.

The proposal will now need to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council by ordinary legislative procedure (co-decision). There will be a transition period of 24 months from the date of adoption to give industry time to adapt before the new laws come into force.

The Commission acknowledges that ultimately, to have a common charger across the EU, full interoperability is required not only in respect of the electronic device but also in respect of the external power supply. Later this year, the Commission will launch a review of its Ecodesign Regulation to address harmonisation of the external power supply. To read the Commission’s press release in full and for a link to the proposal, click here.