By the end of 2024 all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU will have to have USB C charging, and from spring 2026 so will laptops.
The new law was passed in the EU parliament with 602 votes in favour, 13 against and 8 abstentions. The rules also say people should be able to choose whether to buy a new device with or without a charging cable, and it’s pitched as a measure to reduce e-waste, presumably running on the theory that this will all mean they’ll be less cables flying around ultimately ending their lifespans in a landfill.
The law covers all new phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles, portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, earbuds and laptops that are rechargeable via a wired cable, operating with a power delivery of up to 100 watts. All of these new products will have to have a USB port for charging if they want to be sold in the EU as of the end of 2024.
“The common charger will finally become a reality in Europe,” said the EU Parliament’s ‘rapporteur’ Alex Agius Saliba. “We have waited more than ten years for these rules, but we can finally leave the current plethora of chargers in the past. This future-proof law allows for the development of innovative charging solutions in the future, and it will benefit everyone – from frustrated consumers to our vulnerable environment. These are difficult times for politics, but we have shown that the EU has not run out of ideas or solutions to improve the lives of millions in Europe and inspire other parts of the world to follow suit.”
It being a piece of EU legislation, you can bet your defunct micro-USB cable that there’s a few more steps to go. Next, the council will have to formally approve the directive before it is published in the EU Official Journal, and member states will then have a year to transpose the rules, and a year after the transposition period ends to apply them.
Firms that don’t use USB C – most notably Apple – are obviously going to have to do some rejigging if they want to carry on selling in the EU, but despite some initial complaining when this move was first being discussed, it doesn’t look like there’s much that can stop the EU rubber stamping this new law.