Though some wondered if the day would actually ever come, Europe appears prepared to finally move forward with a common USB-C charging standard.
Following months of deliberations and nearly a decade of speculation, the European Council on Monday gave a final approval for a common charger directive. That directive will make USB-C ports mandatory for mobile phones, tablets, headphones, games consoles, and other electronic devices by Fall, 2024. In theory, the new directive will make USB-C the one charger to rule them all, which could hopefully help empty out those drawers filled to the brim with messy, tangled, mostly useless cords.
When the standard rolls out, European consumers will be granted the option to choose to purchase a new device with or without a charger, though that unbundling could become mandatory further down the line. The European Commission says it will also work on “harmonizing” wireless charging interoperability in an effort to push the tech forward.
“Looking for the right charger, either at home or at work, can be quite annoying,” Czech Minister for Industry and Trade Jozef Síkela said in a statement. “On top of this, these chargers amount to 11.000 tonnes of e-waste every year. Having a charger that fits multiple devices will save money and time and also helps us reduce electronic waste.”
The European Parliament voted in favor of the new USB-C standard earlier this month by an overwhelming margin of 602-13. Mobile phones, headphones, and other smaller devices will need to adhere to the standard by Fall 2024. That standard’s slated to extend to laptops sold within the EU by Spring 2026.
Supporters of the directive often cite reducing environmentally harmful electronic waste as a key motivator for the legislation. Private companies like Samsung, Google, and even Apple have taken steps of their own to reduce waste by opting to no longer continue selling charging bricks with certain new devices, though not without a fair amount of pushback.
The EU’s new standard does technically apply to all tech companies operating in the region but Apple’s widely seen as the true, multi-trillion dollar elephant in the room. For years now, Apple has stubbornly stuck to the iPhone’s Lightning charger even as competitors coalesced around USB-C. Rumors cited earlier this year by Bloomberg and trusted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggest testing is already underway to replace Lightning with USB-C in future iPhones.