PABLO R. SUANZES
Updated Thursday, 23 September 2021 – 13:00
Aspire to the single system in three or four years and if the proposal is approved, it will force brands to sell their devices without forcing them to buy extra chargers.
USB-C and micro USB features.
The European Commission wants that within three or four years, at most, all electronic devices of daily use are charged with the same chargerregardless of your brand. If the idea succeeds, mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, game consoles, headphones or portable speakers will have to be manufactured with USB-C port and companies will have to offer the ability for whoever acquires a new device to do so without new chargers, to save on costs and to reduce the impact on the environment.
The proposal is, for the moment, just that. It was presented this Thursday in Brussels by the vice president Margrethe vestager and the commissioner Thierry Breton. “European consumers have long been frustrated by the accumulation of incompatible chargers in their drawers. We have given the industry a lot of time to come up with its own solutions but now the time has come to legislate. This is a major victory for our consumers and the environment and is in line with our ecological and digital ambitions, “said the Danish. “With more and more devices, more and more chargers are being sold that are not interchangeable or not necessary. Today we put an end to that. With our proposal, European consumers will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronic devices, an important step towards increase comfort and reduce waste, “added the French
Last year they were sold 420 million portable devices In the EU and, according to the data managed by the Commission, each European has at least three phone chargers, of which he uses two almost daily. Annual spending on chargers exceeds 2,400 million euros and is generated 11,000 tons of waste with the damaged ones, lost or replaced due to the change of device. In 2009 the EU began to pressure manufacturers to move towards a single charger, and although in a decade the number of variants has gone from 30 to three, Brussels still wants to unify them.
The path begins now. The European Commission, which is the one who has the legislative initiative in the EU, has made its proposal and it will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council (governments). There is no set deadline. The discussion may go on for six months or years, depending on the discrepancies. First, the 27 capitals must agree on their common position and then begin exchanges with MEPs. In such cases, Parliament tends to be more ambitious and to take the position of consumers, advocating broader and more demanding directives, while the Council, more sensitive to complaints from industry, tends to try to water down the initial proposal, with more flexible, less demanding and longer conditions. Thus, the Commission proposes a 24-month transition period, from the entry into force of this hypothetical idea, for the industry to adjust to the changes, but in the negotiation the period could be extended much more. In the most optimistic case, the new reality will be palpable in three or four years.
Actually, two legal changes are required. The commissioners today propose to amend the Radio Equipment Directive, but to have full interoperability there are two parts, the electronic device and the plug. Today the first area is addressed but for the shippers themselves it will be touched on the ecological design regulations, something that the Commission hopes to have solved before the end of the year so that the deadlines coincide.
The community proposal has four legs. A harmonized charger with a USB-C port. A one-size-fits-all technology that “prevents manufacturers from limiting the loading speed in an unjustified way.” Third, the legislation would make it mandatory to give the customer the option of acquiring a phone or tablet without chargers (cable s may be included, as it is used for other things besides giving energy), although companies can offer them to whoever they want. And finally, more and better information for consumers, since manufacturers will be required to specify the performance of each charger to know if it is the most suitable for their interests.
The Commission has received a lot of pressure these months trying to delay or even have the initiative withdrawn. The sector believes that the work carried out on a voluntary basis has been effective, with the reduction from 30 loader models to three in just over a decade, but the institutions report a lack of ambition and commitment. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2009, but it expired in 2014 without being renewed. In 2018 the industry offered a roadmap that Brussels always considered insufficient, hence the legislative route, and forced, after three years without being able to agree on a ‘voluntary’ solution.
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