The days of sifting through cables in search of the right charger may be numbered.
By autumn 2024, the European Union has provisionally agreed that all new portable electronic devices must use a USB Type-C charger. BBC News has inquired as to whether the UK government intends to enact similar legislation. According to EU and UK officials, the European Union ruling would apply to Northern Ireland under the current post-Brexit arrangements.
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,” according to a December 2021 parliamentary report.
The treaty works by allowing Northern Ireland to participate in the EU’s single market for goods while the rest of the UK is excluded. The UK and the EU are still at odds over how to reform the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Apple products such as iPhones and iPads, as well as laptop computers, will be required to comply with the new regulation. Devices that are already in use will be exempt. After their summer recesses, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers will be presented with the agreement, which will be formally approved and then published. Apple told the BBC that it had nothing new to say.
“Strict regulation mandating only one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,” a representative told BBC News when the proposal was first introduced in September 2021. Apple is the largest manufacturer to use a custom charging port that is unique to some of its products – the Lightning connector on its iPhones is made by Apple.
Regardless of who makes the devices, any that are charged with a wired cable must have a USB Type-C port. The rule will apply to laptops as well, but manufacturers will have 40 months to make changes after it takes effect. Customers will be able to choose whether or not they want a charging cable with their new electronics under the terms of the agreement.
The EU stated in its announcement that “this law is part of a broader EU effort to make products in the EU more sustainable, to reduce electronic waste, and to make consumers’ lives easier.” The EU added that it would save consumers “up to €250 million [£213 million] per year on unnecessary charger purchases” and cut 11,000 tones of waste per year.
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