The European Commission (EC) has put forward a new proposal according to which all hardware manufacturers will be forced to use USB-C as the charging port for most devices. The motivation behind the proposed standard is that it will aid in reducing e-waste since consumers will be able to utilize charging cables from their old devices instead of purchasing new ones. The EC has also suggested that manufacturers drop chargers from their packaging altogether, something that several OEMs are already doing.
The proposal covers the use of USB-C charging in smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and handheld consoles. Meanwhile, smartwatches, earbuds, and fitness trackers are exempt. EC executive vice-president Margarethe Vestager had the following to say about the proposal:
European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers. We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions.
In totality, the EC has stated that USB-C with a unified fast charging technology implementation should become the standard. While the charger should be unbundled by OEMs, they are required to be more transparent towards consumers in terms of informing them about charging performance and support for fast charging, so that users can judge if their existing chargers fulfill respective criteria.
In terms of next steps, the legislation will need to go through a vote in the European Parliament today, and if successful, it will become law. Should that happen, hardware manufacturers will have up to two years to adopt USB-C as the standard. The legislation is most likely to affect Apple devices such as iPhones the most, as they still come with proprietary Lightning ports and cables. Should the proposal become law, Apple will be forced to substitute Lightning connectivity with USB-C ports across its device portfolio - where applicable - within the next two years.