Catherine Bearder MEP writes: Universal phone chargers - a victory for common sense

March 17, 2014 2:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Don't you just get fed up with carrying around endless cables? Packing to go away, which I have to do often (it goes with the MEP territory) I know I do. And then when they're at home they just get knotted in the drawers like spaghetti.

For years now I have joined other MEPs in the campaign to realise a universal charger for all mobile phones, no matter the manufacturer or model.

Last week MEPs voted in favour of a draft law which now brings this a step closer.

The new measure will reduce cable clutter and put a stop to the needless discarding of old chargers. It will effectively wipe out 51,000 tonnes of electrical waste each year.


The legislation covers 'radio devices' but it will be up to the Commission to refine this definition further.

Currently most phones use the same MicroUSB charger following a voluntary agreement between the EU and 14 mobile phone manufacturers in 2011. The growing move towards standardisation put pressure on them to introduce a common charger.

Unfortunately, several manufacturers including Apple have held on to their unique charging ports for their devices. This new legislation makes it a legal requirement for manufacturers selling their goods in the EU to comply by making their devices compatible with the universal charger.

Because Europe is the world's biggest mobile phone market we can put pressure on manufacturers to put an end to this cable chaos. I believe it is a great victory for common sense and another step towards making better use of our resources.

The draft law was approved by 550 votes to 12, with 8 abstentions. It still has to be formally approved by each country's ministers in the Council but the initial indication from them is that it'll be a nod. Countries will then have two years to transpose the rules into their national laws and manufacturers will have an additional year to comply.

Standardising mobile phone chargers is just the tip of the iceberg but it signals the desire within the EU and among consumers to make using electrical devices easier and greener. As people travel, live and work on the move with increasing frequency I believe it could open the door to much greater standardisation in electronics - maybe even a universal plug socket!