EU proposes requirement for standard charging port across devices

The European Union is proposing a requirement for all electronic devices to use a common charging port, posing the latest hurdle from the commission for Apple, which uses its own signature port on its products. 

The European Commission announced the plans Thursday to create a “harmonised” charging technology, with USB-C becoming the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld video game consoles. 

The commission said the plan will help consumers and reduce electronic waste. 

“We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions,” Europe’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, said in a statement. 

The proposal also calls for the “unbundling” of chargers being sold with electronic devices to let consumers buy a new device without a new charger in an effort to reduce waste. 

The proposal now needs to be adopted by the European Parliament. If adopted, there would be a transition period of 24 months before going into effect. 

The move is the EU’s latest proposal reining in the market power of largely U.S.-based tech giants. 

Apple, which uses its signature Lightning port charging connectors, would be specifically impacted by the change. 

Apple pushed back on the efforts to create a standard charging requirement in comments provided to the EU for feedback, arguing it would stifle innovation. 

“Apple stands for innovation. Regulations that would drive conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones freeze innovation rather than encourage it,” the company said. 

An Apple spokesperson said in a statement Thursday the company remains concerned that the update will stifle innovation.

“We create products that enhance people’s lives, making everyday tasks easier and more efficient, including how you charge and transfer data on your device. We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,” the spokesperson said.

The company also said the 24-month transition period would be short and a concern for the industry.

Apple will continue to work with the European Commission to understand the details of the proposal, according to the company.

Updated at 10:21 a.m.

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