Common Charger for all mobile phones: vote in the European Parliament
On 13 March 2014, MEP’s in Strasbourg voted for a directive which will impose a universal charger for mobile phones within three years. The directive will replace the voluntary agreement with mobile phone manufacturers which expired at the end of 2012.
Shortly before the vote, I spoke to rapporteur Barbara Weiler about the benefits of a universal charger, what the vote will mean for consumers and the case of the Apple connector.
The Weiler Report was passed by 550 votes to 12 with 8 abstentions. The draft law has already been informally agreed with the Council of Ministers but will still have to be formally approved.
The Universal Mobile Charger
- Did you ever have a problem finding a mobile charger when your phone was flat ?
- None of your work colleagues had a compatible charger ?
- Have you got a drawer full of old chargers that are completely useless ?
If you’ve bought a new mobile since 2011, you’ve probably noticed that you can use the charger with almost any other mobile phone.
The new micro-USB plug was the result of the European Commission persuading fourteen of the leading phone manufacturers to standardize the mobile phone connectors in all 27 European Union Member states. The new plug now means that the telephone can be connected to and charged from any computer or other USB device.
Not only was the incompatibility of phone chargers inconvenient, it also added to the more than 50,000 tonnes of electronic waste produced each year within the European Community. This will this mean that the consumer will no longer be left with an obsolete charger to dispose of when they change the phone but will also save them from buying a charger with every phone.
In spite of the fact that the majority of phones now have micro-USB cables, Apple is one of the few exceptions. Having previously signed up to a voluntary agreement, it has recently changed to its Lightning connector. Even though Apple does produce a Lightning /micro-USB cable it will probably have to find another way of complying with EU law if it wants to continue selling mobile phones in Europe.
Design problems and waste savings
One of the problems with the micro-USB plug is that manufacturers may be obliged to design products with a connector that may not stand the test of time, especially concerning future data transfer speeds. Also, the expected electronic waste saving has not yet happened as manufacturers continue to slip a charger into every box. The current environmental gain…zero.
Further information :
….and a rather cryptic clip from the EU’s You Tube site :
More information on the EU’s One charger for all – Let’s plug website
More articles :
From Wired magazine : Mobile phone chargers to be standardised under EU law
From European Parliaments news website : Common charger for all mobile phones on the way