EU votes for law that requires a common charging cable for all portable devices 

The European Parliament has voted in favour of a new law that would require all new portable devices to have the same type of charging cable from 2024 onwards. 

After a provisional agreement by the EU in June, MPs voted in parliament, with 602 votes in favour of the law, 13 votes against it, and 8 abstaining. 

It’s expected that member states will grant approval to the new law on 24 October, before it goes on to be signed into law at the EU parliament.

The new rule won’t apply to the UK, but it could extend to Northern Ireland due to the Brexit trade deal as, according to a 2021 parliamentary report, the “new requirements may also apply to devices sold in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol in the Brexit agreement, potentially triggering divergence of product standards with the rest of the UK”. 

What does the new law mean for EU consumers? 

The new law means that all new smartphones and tablets sold in the EU need to be compatible with a USB-C charger from 2024, including the Apple iPhone and iPad. Laptop manufacturers have until 2026 to make the change. 

The rules will cover a range of “small and medium-sized portable electronics”, including mobile phones, tablets, mice and keyboards, e-readers, headphones, GPS systems, digital cameras, portable speakers, and handheld video game consoles. 

According to EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, the new rules will get rid of the “waste and inconvenience” that comes with having different chargers for different devices. 

Apple has argued against the proposal since it was announced in September 2021, saying “Strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world”.

Apple’s phones and tablets currently use a unique type of charging port, with the iPhone series using the Lightning connector, which is specific to Apple devices. 

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