EU Regulators are Going After Phone Companies With Non-Standard Chargers Again

By Tom Pritchard on at

In 2009 EU rules changed to reduce electronic waste, and had phone companies sign on to agree to adopt a new standard. Basically they couldn't use a different charger for every phone they produced, and had to use microUSB. Now the EU is coming back to this, and seems to have non-adopters in its sights. Which basically means Apple.

As most people who pay attention to phones will know, phone companies have been pretty good at using the same charger this past decade - whether it be microUSB or the more advanced USB-C. It helps when USB standards are free to use, provided you don't use any of the logos or branding in the process. Apple is the only notable company that didn't follow through, despite signing an agreement to adopt microUSB, choosing to instead offer European customers microUSB adaptors in its online store.

The EU is seemingly quite frustrated with the remaining resistance to adopting a universal charging standard, and isn't satisfied with the voluntary approach that's been going on the past nine years. So it's considering non-voluntary measures that would force companies to adopt a charging standard. EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said:

“Given the unsatisfactory progress with this voluntary approach, the Commission will shortly launch an impact assessment study to evaluate costs and benefits of different other options."

It's not clear whether this will just apply to phones, or whether other bits of technology will also need to start adopting a common charging port more proactively. For the most part things have been running rather smoothly. With the exception of cheaper laptops and Apple products, you'd be hard pressed to find a device that doesn't use some sort of common charging cable.

That said, Slashgear points out that any new regulations could also apply to fast charging tech. Like the chargers of old, different companies use different standards and each of those standards needs specialised hardware to offer the faster charging speeds. The EU may also have to consider wired headphones that don't use the 3.5mm headphone jack. All those extra dongles and port-specific headphones aren't going to do much when it comes to reducing waste. [Reuters via Slashgear]