MEPs call for a common electronic charger

MEPs want to make life easier for consumers and cut electronic waste through the introduction of a common charger for all mobile devices.

A usb charger with different smartphone and tablet charging cables connected
Different chargers for each piece of equipment could soon be a thing of the past

They called on the European Commission to come up with a proposal by July 2020 during a debate on 13 January. The Parliament's internal market and consumer protection committee is behind the initiative as its members want a common charger for smartphones, tablets, e-book- readers, smart cameras and wearable technology.

Committee Vice-Chair Róża Thun und Hohenstein said: “The Commission has to show leadership and stop letting tech giants dictate us standards. If digital sovereignty means something to this new Commission, we expect a proposal to establish a standard of a common charger, within the next six months.” The Polish EPP member had submitted a question for oral answer to the Commission about the issue.

Social and green benefits

The introduction of a common charger would reduce electronic waste, lower costs and improve the safety and interoperability of chargers.

A 2014 study showed a reduction in the number of different chargers for smartphones from 30 in 2009 to three. However, when buying new devices, new chargers automatically come with the device.

According to the European Commission, electronic waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, expected to grow to more than 12 million tonnes by 2020.

Commission’s voluntary approach

EU lawmakers called for the development of a common charger in 2014. So far, the Commission has pursued a voluntary approach to encourage mobile phone manufacturers to cooperate.

Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič, representing the European Commission, told MEPs that the voluntary approach was “the best way of achieving our policy objectives without hampering innovation”.

Next steps

MEPs expect a proposal from the Commission by July 2020 that should help reduce e-waste generated in Europe.

On Thursday, 30 January, members adopted a resolution calling for measures to make common chargers for mobile devices a reality.

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