Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 2014/53/EU on the harmonisation of the laws of the Member States relating to the making available on the market of radio equipment

Author (Corporate)
Series Details COM (2021) 547
Publication Date 23/09/2021
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Legislative initiative tabled by the European Commission on 23 September 2021, introducing amendments to Directive 2014/53/EU concerning the harmonisation of the laws of the Member States of the European Union (EU) relating to the making available on the market of radio equipment. This is a text with EEA relevance.

Further information:

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in 2009 by major producers of mobile telephones on harmonising chargers for data-enabled mobile phones sold in the EU. It led to a reduction in market fragmentation and attracted almost global alignment. Its implementation led to an effective reduction in the number of charging solutions for mobiles charges from 30 to 3. However, the MoU allowed for the use of proprietary charging interfaces, and one such solution continued to be used by a major mobile phone manufacturer, thus preventing full interoperability. In addition, the MoU never addressed the environmental issues arising from the continued existence of those different charging interfaces and charging communication protocols.

Ever since the MoU expired in 2014 - after two letters of renewal - the Commission sought to encourage the adoption of a new voluntary agreement. Following several rounds of discussion, the industry proposed a new MoU in March 2018 on a future common charging solution for smartphones. However, the Commission did not consider this new MoU to be satisfactory and not in line with the EU's harmonisation objectives. Instead, it launched an impact assessment study for a potential proposal aimed at implementing a common solution for charging mobile phones (and possibly other similar categories or classes of radio equipment). In 2020, two complementary studies were launched. In the same year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on a common charger for mobile radio equipment.

The Commission's adjusted 2020 work programme signalled a new proposal on these matters. The design of radio equipment falls within the scope of Directive 2014/53/EU - also known as Radio Equipment Directive - relating to the harmonisation of laws across Member States on the availability on the market of radio equipment. On the other hand, the characteristics of the external power supply are falling within the scope of the Directive 2009/125/EC.

The draft law was tabled by the Commission on 23 September 2021, aiming to prevent the fragmentation of the market. It proposes to harmonise the charging interface for mobile phones and similar categories or classes of radio equipment that are recharged via a wired charging; guarantee that such devices, where they support fast charging, incorporate at least the same charging communication protocol; allow for future harmonisation in this area in response to technological developments; introduce requirements so that end-users are not obliged to purchase a new charging device whenever they purchase a new mobile phone or similar item of radio equipment and; introduce requirements so that end-users receive the necessary information on its charging performance characteristics and the charging device that can be used with it.

The Council of the European Union adopted a general approach concerning this file on 26 January 2022. The plenary of the European Parliament adopted its negotiating position on 4 May. An informal agreement between the co-legislators on a compromise text for this file was reached on 7 June.

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Commentary and Analysis
Politico, 23/09/2021: How the EU wants to force Apple to adopt common charger
New Scientist: Analysis, 24/09/2021: USB-C chargers: Will EU law cut down on e-waste or just anger Apple?
Times of Malta, 24/04/2022: Why MEPs believe a common charger in the EU is needed
EPRS: Briefing, May 2022: A common charger for electronic devices: Revision of the Radio Equipment Directive
The Spectator (UK): Opinion, 07/06/2022: The EU’s phone charger rule will stifle innovation

The Guardian, 23/09/2021: Apple opposes EU plans to make common charger port for all devices
TechCrunch, 23/09/2021: Europe will finally legislate for a common charger for mobiles
BBC News, 23/09/2021: EU rules to force USB-C chargers for all phones
The New York Times, 23/09/2021: In a setback for Apple, the European Union seeks a common charger for all phones.
Deutsche Welle, 23/09/2021: EU proposes universal charging plug for all smartphones
France24, 23/09/2021: EU to impose universal phone charger, setting up clash with Apple
EurActiv, 23/09/2021: Commission proposes common charger for electronic devices in two years
Euronews, 23/09/2021: Apple against Brussels' bid to have one charger for all smartphones
The Verge, 23/09/2021: EU proposes mandatory USB-C on all devices, including iPhones
Forbes, 23/09/2021: EU Proposes Universal Charger — A Blow To Apple
Reuters, 23/09/2021: EU plans one mobile charging port for all, in setback for Apple
RTÉ News, 23/09/2021: EU plans universal mobile charging port in setback for Apple
Associated Press, 23/09/2021: One to charge them all: EU demands single plug for phones
Bloomberg, 23/09/2021: iPhones May Need Redesign as EU Pushes for Common Charger
EUObserver, 24/09/2021: EU unveils common charger plan - forcing Apple redesign
EurActiv, 02/12/2021: MEPs push for broader scope on common charger proposal
Reuters, 15/02/2022: EU deal on single mobile charging port by year end is possible, lawmaker says
TechCrunch, 20/04/2022: MEPs vote to expand scope of common charger rules
EurActiv, 20/04/2022: EU lawmakers adopt proposal for extending common charger to laptops, wearables in key committee vote
Euronews, 21/04/2022: Europe moves one step closer to a worldwide phone, tablet and laptop charger in knock to Apple
Politico, 07/06/2022: EU backs common charger for mobile devices by 2024
Bloomberg, 07/06/2022: Apple Products Set to Use Common Charging Point After EU Deal
The Guardian, 07/06/2022: EU deal will force iPhones to use USB-C charger by 2024
TechCrunch, 07/06/2022: Europe seals deal on USB Type-C common charger rules
Euronews, 07/06/2022: EU agrees all mobile phones and tablets must have a common USB-C charger in blow to Apple
Times of Malta, 07/06/2022: EU backs common charger for phones and other devices by mid-2024

EUR-LEX: SWD(2021)244: Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal - Subsidiarity Grid
EUR-LEX: SWD(2021)245: Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal - Impact Assessment Report
EUR-LEX: SWD(2021)246: Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal - Executive Summary of the Impact Assessment Report
European Parliament: Legislative Observatory: Procedure File for Proposal on Radio equipment: harmonisation of the laws of the Member States relating to the making available on the market (2021/0291(COD))
European Parliament: Legislative Train Schedule: Common charges for mobile phones and similar devices
European Commission: DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs: Sectors: Radio Equipment Directive: One common charging solution for all
European Commission: Press Release, 23/09/2021: Pulling the plug on consumer frustration and e-waste: Commission proposes a common charger for electronic devices
European Commission: Commission proposes a common charging solution for electronic devices – Questions and Answers (23 September 2021)
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 26/01/2022: Council adopts position on a common charger for electronic devices
European Parliament: Headlines, 20/04/2022: EU closer to introducing a common charger
European Parliament: Press Release, 20/04/2022: Common charger: MEPs agree on proposal to reduce electronic waste
EPP EP Group: Newsroom, 20/04/2022: Get rid of useless chargers
European Parliament: Press Release, 04/05/2022: Common charger: Parliament commits to reducing electronic waste
European Parliament: Press Release, 07/06/2022: Deal on common charger: reducing hassle for consumers and curbing e-waste
European Commission: Press Release, 07/06/2022: Commission welcomes political agreement on a common charger in the EU
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 07/06/2022: Common charger: Council and European Parliament reach a provisional political agreement
G/EFA EP Group: Press Release, 07/06/2022: Agreement on a common charger reached
S&D EP Group: Newsroom, 07/06/2022: Consumers win with the S&Ds: a common charger for mobile devices is a reality

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