USB-C: Finally comes a uniform charging cable for smartphones?

For years, the EU Commission wants to enforce uniform standards for smartphone charging cables. So far without success. Now the politicians are starting a new attempt.

USB-C: Finally comes a uniform charging cable for smartphones?

The European Commission wants to know again. "Shortly" authority wants to commission a study to find out how problem of Ununiform charging cables can be solved, said competition commissioner Margre Vestager according to Reuters. Accordingly, EU Commission is not satisfied with status quo.

For almost ten years, Brussels has been trying to get equipment manufacturers to voluntarily develop a uniform standard for charging plugs and cables of smartphones and tablets. This promises to be a more frequent reuse of old charging cables and subsequently less rubbish. According to Commission, 51,000 tonnes of waste are produced every year in Europe through discarded charging cables.

Memorandum of Understanding concluded

As a result of EU political pressure, manufacturers Apple, Google, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, Samsung and Sony signed a voluntary memorandum of understanding in March in which y commit mselves to new smartphone models in EU at latest 2021 exclusively with a charging plug to USB-C standard.

The self-obligation, however, contains a loophole: according to document, charging cables complying with agreement must have a USB-C connector on one side only, or side may be equipped with a manufacturer-specific plug. It is unlikely that EU can achieve its targets for less waste and a simplification for consumers in this way.

That is also why EU authority is apparently not very enthusiastic. A spokeswoman did not want to comment directly on announcement Vestagers in conversation with "We have done a lot of work to find a consensus among manufacturers on an ambitious voluntary agreement," she said. The agreement of manufacturers, which was found in March, was carefully examined, but was still in "process of reflection". If necessary, we will take furr steps.

Almost a decade of self-commitment

Already 2009, 14 mobile phone manufacturers signed a voluntary policy agreement in which y agreed to unify Chargers for new equipment up to 2011. Apart from Nokia, first signatories included Apple, Samsung and Huawei as well.

Because this first agreement expired in year 2012, some manufacturers renewed agreement with EU Commission 2013 and 2014 without a single charging plug. Although most smartphone and tablet manufacturers now use micro-USB or USB-C to load ir devices. Apple continues to develop its own USB incompatible standard for iphones, ipads and ipods with lightning.

In August 2014, EU Commission published a study on impact of voluntary agreement on unification of charging plugs prepared by consulting firm Risk policy Analysis. This came to conclusion that although number of different commercially in EU was considerably reduced during period of memorandum of understanding, this did not – as EU Commission actually wanted – reduce amount of equipment waste or Resource consumption.

The fact that EU Commission could now be left with a study is likely to disappoint supporters of single plug after all se years. For wher a new investigation by a consulting firm ultimately leads to a legal regulation and how it will look is completely open.

In March, Belgian MEP Anneleen van Bossuyt asked Commission when it finally made use of its legislative powers to ensure that "for benefit of consumers and for reduction of waste and cost reduction, common Chargers are made available ". This question remains unanswered for time being.

Updated Date: 09 August 2018, 12:00

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