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EU votes to make all mobile devices carry USB-C

All mobile devices sold in Europe by the end of 2024 must be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port, the EU has voted. 

The long-awaited ruling will also see all laptops sold in the bloc need to make the switch by spring of 2026. The law will only cover hardware up to 100W of power delivery, meaning that higher-performance laptops will not be covered.

The new law was adopted by plenary on Tuesday with 602 votes in favour, 13 against and 8 abstentions. It is part of a wider push in the EU to reduce e-waste. 

In a statement, the EU said that previous pushes for device makers to standardise voluntarily “failed to produce concrete results for EU consumers”, and so the legislation was “finally tabled by the Commission” on September 23.

Apple will be the company most significantly hit by the ruling, having stuck with its proprietary lightning port in its smartphones and tablets – though newer iPads have featured USB-C, as have its laptops. The company in 2020 said that it opposed such standardisation on the grounds that it would “stifle innovation”.

The EU Parliament’s rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba said: “The common charger will finally become a reality in Europe. We have waited more than ten years for these rules, but we can finally leave the current plethora of chargers in the past. This future-proof law allows for the development of innovative charging solutions in the future, and it will benefit everyone – from frustrated consumers to our vulnerable environment. These are difficult times for politics, but we have shown that the EU has not run out of ideas or solutions to improve the lives of millions in Europe and inspire other parts of the world to follow suit.”

While the law will obviously not include European countries like the UK, Switzerland and Norway, it is unlikely that companies such as Apple would continue to sell non-USB-C smartphones in the continent.

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