The European Commission wants a common charging port for mobile phones, tablets and headphones under an EU proposal presented on Thursday, reports Reuters. If passed, it would force Apple to use a USB-C port on all iPhones, iPads, and AirPods in Europe.
The EU says such a move would offer environmental benefits and 250 million euros (US$293 million) in annual savings for users. Reuters notes that, under the Commission’s proposal, a USB-C connector will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld videogame consoles. Chargers will also be sold separately from electronic devices.
About the EU
The EU is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its policies aim “to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development.”
The EU’s stance
An EU study in 2019 found that half of chargers sold with mobile phones in the European Union in 2018 had a USB micro-B connector; 29% had a USB-C connector; and 21% a Lightning connector. Last year, lawmakers at the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a common charger, citing environmental benefits and convenience to users.
The government agency says a common charger should fit all mobile phones, tablets, e-book readers and other portable devices. According to estimates, old chargers generate more than 51,000 tons of electronic waste per year, the briefing notes.
Apple doesn’t like the idea. In a Jan. 31, 2019, filing, the tech giant said that regulations that would drive conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones freeze innovation rather than encourage it. The company added that such proposals are bad for the environment and unnecessarily disruptive for customers.
In its filing, the iPhone maker said: “More than 1 billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers. We want to ensure that any new legislation will not result in the shipment of any unnecessary cables or external adaptors with every device, or render obsolete the devices and accessories used by many millions of Europeans and hundreds of millions of Apple customers worldwide. This would result in an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconvenience users. To be forced to disrupt this huge market of customers will have consequences far beyond the stated aims of the Commission.