EU lawmakers, with eye on Apple, call for common mobile charger

EU lawmakers overwhelmingly called on Thursday for rules to establish a common charger for all mobile device makers across Europe, a drive that iPhone maker Apple has criticised.

Members of the European Parliament voted by 582-40 for a resolution urging the European Commission, which drafts EU laws, to ensure that EU consumers are no longer obliged to buy new chargers with each new device.

This story is a case of government regulation done extremely well. This whole process started with a voluntary agreement in the industry to standardise on one charger and port, and if they failed, the EU would step in and enforce it by law. This agreement has worked out quite well – first micro USB, now USB-C.

However, one popular phone maker decided to not adhere to the agreement, and so, more than ten years after the agreement, and thus ample time for this phone maker to follow suit, the EU will now have to step in. Apple has already moved all of its devices to USB-C, save for one – the iPhone. Now they won’t have much of a choice but to follow along.

Much like with RoHS, the rest of the world has only benefited from this push for a charging standard, as anyone who remembers the feature phone and PDA days can only attest to (you should see my mutually incompatible collection of just PDA chargers – I must have dozens of them!).

And no, this won’t stifle innovation. This whole process is done in collaboration with the industry and standards bodies, so if newer options come along that the sector wants to standardise on, they can – just as they did with the move from micro USB to USB-C. Apple will just have to suck it up – maybe while they’re at it, they can finally make a charging cable that doesn’t suck?


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