EU deal on single mobile charging port by year end is possible, lawmaker says

An Apple Lightning charger and USB-C charger
The law could apply to e-readers, keyboards, computer mice, earbuds and more. Photo credit: Getty Images

EU lawmakers and member states could clinch a deal on a common charging port for mobile phones, tablets and headphones by the end of the year, a key lawmaker said, a proposal that has been strongly criticised by iPhone maker Apple.

The European Commission first broached a single mobile charging port more than a decade ago but last year proposed draft legislation in a world first, after companies failed to agree on a common solution.

IPhone and Android users have long complained about having to use different chargers for their phones. The former is charged from a Lightning cable while Android-based devices are powered using USB-C connectors.

Half the chargers sold with mobile phones in 2018 had a USB micro-B connector, while 29 percent had a USB-C connector and 21 percent a Lightning connector, according to a 2019 Commission study.

Lawmaker Alex Agius Saliba, who is leading the issue at the European Parliament, said he hopes the legislative assembly will be able to vote on his proposal in May, allowing him to then start talks with EU countries on a final draft.

"A deal by the end of the year is doable. This is our ambition," he told Reuters in an interview.

His proposal however has a broader scope that is likely to impact Samsung and Huawei and other device makers and a shorter timeline than the Commission's draft.

"This would be a totally missed opportunity if we only focus on smartphones," Agius Saliba said.

He wants e-readers, low-powered laptops, keyboards, computer mice, earbuds, smart watches, and electronic toys to have a single mobile charging port, while the Commission's list has only mobile phones, tablets and headphones.

Agius Saliba also wants the Commission to harmonise wireless charging systems by 2025 and that the legislation should come into force six months after it is adopted, by which time companies will have to adapt their devices, instead of two years.

Apple has warned that the EU push for a common charger would hurt innovation and create a mountain of electronic waste if consumers were forced to switch to new chargers.