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Parliamentary question - E-001164/2013Parliamentary question

Failure of the manufacturer Apple to cooperate on a standard USB charger for mobile telephones and smartphones

Question for written answer E-001164-13
to the Commission
Rule 117
Toine Manders (ALDE)

In 2009, under pressure from the European Parliament and at the initiative of the Commission, it was agreed with ten major manufacturers of hardware and software for mobile telephones and smartphones, including Apple, that they would supply a new micro-USB as a standard accessory for mobile telephones and smartphones. This was recorded in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which was presented to the then Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen on 29 June 2009. The intention was to improve the internal market and achieve an estimated saving of EUR 300 m per annum for consumers, as well as protecting the environment more effectively.

Recently I have received many complaints that Apple is not abiding by the MoU. Moreover, even if an agreement is reached with industry on a voluntary basis, this does not mean that compliance with it is optional. In 2009, the manufacturer Apple also signed the MoU, but so far it has taken very little action to carry out its obligations under it. For example, new products such as the iPhone 5, iPad 4 and iPad mini are said not to be supplied with the standard micro-USB plug. Perhaps Apple is abiding by the MoU in formal terms, but in practice it is clearly not. I have also heard, for example, that Apple evidently incorporates a chip in the charger which impedes interoperability.

1. Does the Commission recognise these complaints, and does it agree that Apple is impeding the internal market by obstructing competition?

2. If so, what action will the Commission take to induce Apple to abide by the memorandum of understanding and improve the internal market?

OJ C 361 E, 11/12/2013