A picture taken on February 6, 2020 in Brussels shows plugs for mobile charger next to a European flag.
Kenzo Tribouillard —AFP via Getty Images
June 7, 2022 4:26 PM EDT

All smartphones and tablets would have to use a common charger under a provisional European Union agreement clinched on Tuesday.

The plan would force all companies—most notably Apple Inc.—to make phones, tablets, e-readers and digital cameras use the USB-C charger, negotiators announced. Around 15 product types are included in the scope, including headsets, video-game consoles and headphones.

The plan, unveiled last year, was provisionally approved Tuesday and will save consumers an estimated 250 million euros ($267 million) each year according to the European Commission. The European Parliament and 27 EU countries need to sign off on the agreement.

Phones and tablet makers will have to comply by the fall of 2024. Laptops will have more time to make the switch, with negotiators giving laptop producers 40 months after the new rules go into effect.

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“A common charger is common sense for the many electronic devices on our daily lives,” Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a statement. “European consumers will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics—an important step to increase convenience and reduce waste.”

The proposal originally angered Apple, which said it would reduce innovation. But the company is currently testing future iPhone models that replace the current Lightning charging port with the more prevalent USB-C connector. Current Apple laptop models already use the USB-C charger.

The commission will be able to set standards for wireless charging in the future, said Alex Agius Saliba, the lead negotiator for the European Parliament, as the EU does not want to “end up in a situation where we will be legislating for a market which is basically dying out.”

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