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European Parliament vote approves draft law for single phone charger

updated 08:55 pm EDT, Fri March 14, 2014

Manufacturers could be forced to use single connector for charging in EU by 2017

The European Parliament has voted to proceed with proposals to require smartphones and mobile devices to use a single common charger. The new draft law was approved by 550 votes to 12 on Thursday, with 8 abstentions by European parliament members (MEPs), with the vote itself bringing the new regulation closer to being implemented in European Union member states in the future.

The law will still need approval by Europe's council of ministers before being passed to member states, reports the BBC, though the council has already voiced approval, and suggests it will most likely pass without issue. If accepted, member states will have until 2016 to sign it into law, followed by a 12-month grace period where manufacturers must switch over to the standard connector.

The rules will not only govern mobile phones, but also other radio-based equipment, such as GPS units and wireless door openers. While the final choice of connection has yet to be finalized, it is believed that Micro USB will be used under the law, something which a vast majority of smartphone and tablet manufacturers already use. This could lead to Apple either making a change in the design of its devices destined for sale in Europe, or coming up with a work-around to appease the law.

The proposals do have a point, aside from helping consumers avoid confusion, by also helping to protect the environment. "This serves the interests both of consumers and the environment. It will put an end to charger clutter and 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste annually," advised MEP Barbara Weiler, adding that aspects of the modernized Radio Equipment Directive will help prevent interference between radio-based devices.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Marook

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 05-05-99

    This law is STUPID! The days are over for that kind of crap, and everybody uses the crappy Micro USB, or a better connector! And besides, ALL the devices use USB power anyway!!!! The only difference now, is the cable! This is SO stupid, and stops evolution towards BETTER connectors (as the Lightning connector, that is FAR superior to mUSB..!)

  1. JackWebb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-31-07

    MicroUSB only plugs-in one way and I have to look very carefully, remembering which device has it which way, or try both ways, esp. in the dark. MiniUSB was a bit easier to make out. So in order for Europe to ever get a better connector like a reversible one, they'd have to legislate the change now? How many years would that take? Is it even possible with MicroUSB to do the device controls that the lightning connector offers? Is getting rid of magsafe adapters next?

  1. sunman42

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-09-11

    One can argue whether Lightning connectors, which can be inserted in either orientation (good) but are easier to break (bad) are "FAR [sic] superior to mUSB," but it is amazing to American sensibilities to have a legislative body veering into technical issues such as this. I'm willing to bet there will still be thousands metric tons of crappy charges and cables to recycle every year after this is passed, and plenty of older users who will need their specs to determine which way the connector has to go in.

    Let's hope sanity will prevail, and including a Lightning to mUSB adapter will meet the letter of the law, and that the European Pariliament and the micromanaging bureaucrats in Brussels will find something important to consider.

  1. ElectroTech

    Junior Member

    Joined: 11-26-08

    This comes from a group of countries who came up with huge electrical plugs that are larger than an iPhone charger and they want to force manufactures to use outdated standards for charging electronics that likely will force phones to be huge thick bricks.

  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: 07-25-06

    It's revealing that, since the decline of Nokia, Europeans have almost no impact on the design of cell phones and smartphones, and yet it is they who want to regulate it.
    And the others are right. The microUSB's polarity makes it a pain to use and what's the point of it all when it comes in a package with a huge AC connector almost as large as one U.S. standard use for clothes dryers.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Um, ElectroTech, this is the Euro iPhone charger:

    Our GROUNDED plugs are rather more solid, and the sockets recessed, which means that it is impossible to grab a plug and accidentally get shocked from having slipped behind it (which has happened to me with a US plug). It also means that the will never wobble loose and fall out of the wall socket.

    Note that I think that standardizing on a fiddly, dinky connector standardized over a decade ago is ridiculously short-sighted. I hate micro-USB. But making it out to be a systematic thing for some sort of European propensity for clunky solutions is ignorant at best, and overtly "racist" at worst.

    Rah-rah USA! et cetera,


  1. sibeale1

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-23-06

    When/if this law comes into practice, it is possible that chargers will be unbundled from devices and will be reused when the device is replaced. The only spec needed will be sufficient output current for the new device.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Yes, that's the whole point of this law.

  1. Sebastien

    Registered User

    Joined: 04-29-00

    ....and the Apple fanboys go into hysterics!

  1. chimaera

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 04-08-07

    I'm not seeing a problem here. From what I can see, they aren't forbidding any connectors. They're just requiring that all new phones be able to charge over micro USB. Apple could comply by adding a micro USB port, without removing thunderbolt.

  1. panjandrum

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 12-01-04

    I certainly don't oppose such a standard unless it's demonstrably inferior in some way. Hopefully Apple will create devices which meet this standard worldwide (instead of special ones for the EU market). This would eliminate the compatibility issues we've seen over the years each time Apple changed their connection port.

  1. lkrupp

    Junior Member

    Joined: 05-13-01

    "Hopefully Apple will create devices which meet this standard worldwide (instead of special ones for the EU market). "

    Yes, force Apple to become just like the rest of the POS phones out there. If you're going to regulate connectors then regulate features and how they function too. All in the name of not confusing consumers of course.

  1. Bittyson

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 09-21-11

    The Europeans haven't done anything intelligent since the Renaissance. Really.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by BittysonView Post

    The Europeans haven't done anything intelligent since the Renaissance. Really.


  1. gprovida

    Junior Member

    Joined: 02-14-06

    Silly law, will delay technology develop, bit USB in a straight jacket, and Apple will prob just include an adaptor for USB rather than degrade the performance and design of the devices, thereby adding not reducing waste. This makes no sense and reflects a poor understanding of when universal standards make sense, that is, when change in the future is not expected e.g., electrical plugs.

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