California-based tech company Apple will likely have to switch to other charging cables for its cellphones. This Thursday, the European Commission will present a bill in Brussels that will oblige all manufacturers to use USB-C cables to charge cellphones, tablets, cameras, headphones and game consoles in the future. USB-C is the most common type of cable used on high-end phones anyway. However, Apple uses its own Lightning standard for cell phones.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung received the 18-page draft directive in advance. The aim is to make life easier for consumers: each outlet must fit into every phone or tablet. The law also requires manufacturers to sell cell phones without a charger included. The Commission hopes that customers will only buy the phone if they already have a charger and cable in their drawer at home. Overall, the legal act, which the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers have yet to approve, should make it possible to avoid 980 tonnes of electronic waste per year, estimates the authority. The citizens were spared from spending 250 million euros per year.
Brussels’ fight against cable congestion has a long history
Since the EU is an important market for suppliers like Apple, the new rules may well become a global standard. After all, it would be expensive for companies to produce different charging outlets and cables in different regions. The directive only deals with the entry of the cable to the mobile phone or tablet. On the other side of the cable – at the connection with the charging block to the socket – diversity is allowed to continue. In fact, there are only two types of connection there. The commission announces anyway that it wants to impose full compatibility here too, with the help of another law. There is a two-year transition period for companies like Apple to adapt to any changes. The American group has always spoken out against legal requirements: voluntary commitments from the industry would have worked, and strict requirements could endanger innovations, are the arguments.
Brussels’ fight against cable clutter has a long history. At the request of the Commission, the industry pledged to tackle the problem as early as 2009 – successfully, as the number of connection types dropped from 30 to three: USB-C, Lightning and the discontinued Micro-USB model. . But this is not enough for the Commission. A new voluntary initiative by manufacturers in 2018 dismissed the authority as inadequate and instead began to draft a law. The European Parliament supports this initiative. German Greens MEP Anna Cavazzini, chair of the Internal Market Committee, describes as “late in our use of uniform charging cables to protect our nerves, our wallets and the planet’s resources”.