Universal charger for portable devices: a reality in 2024 | News

By the end of 2024, all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU must be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port. From spring 2026, this obligation will also apply to laptops. The new legislation – passed in the plenary by 602 votes to 13 with 8 abstentions on Thursday – is part of a wider European effort to reduce the amount of e-waste and empower consumers to make more sustainable choice.

Once the new rules come into force, consumers will no longer need a different charger for each new device they buy. They will be able to use a single charger for a wide range of small and medium-sized portable electronic devices.

Regardless of device brand, all new cell phones, tablets, digital cameras, headsets, headsets, portable speakers, portable video game consoles, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation devices, in-ear headphones, and cable-rechargeable laptops, with an effect of less than or equal to 100 watts, must be equipped with a USB Type-C port.

The charging speed will be the same for all fast charging devices. Users will then be able to charge their device at the same speed with any compatible charger.

Promote technological innovation

As wireless charging becomes more widespread, the European Commission will have to harmonize the requirements for interoperability by the end of 2024 to avoid negative consequences for consumers and the environment. This will also remove consumers’ technological dependence on manufacturers, also known as the ”lock-in effect”.

Consumers are better informed and freer in their choices

Specific brands will inform consumers about the charging capabilities of new devices so they can more easily check the compatibility of the chargers they own. Buyers will thus be able to decide with full knowledge of the facts whether they want to purchase a new charger with their new product.

These new obligations will allow consumers to recycle chargers more and save up to €250 million per year by avoiding the purchase of unnecessary chargers. Discarded or no longer used chargers account for around 11,000 tonnes of electronic waste per year in the EU.

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Rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba (S&D, MT) said: “The universal charger will finally become a reality in Europe. We have been waiting for these rules for more than ten years, but we can finally leave the current abundance of chargers. This law test of hour enables the development of innovative charging solutions in the future and will benefit everyone – from dissatisfied consumers to our fragile environment. These are tough times for politics, but we have shown that the EU is not running out of ideas and solutions to improve millions of citizens’ lives in Europe and that she inspires other parts of the world to follow her example.”

press conference

On Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., the rapporteur will exchange the results of the final vote in plenary and the next steps with the journalists. To find out how to follow this press conference, click here.

Next step

The Council must formally approve the directive before it is published in the Official Journal of the European Union. It enters into force 20 days after publication. Member States then have 12 months to transpose the rules into national law and a further 12 months to apply them. The new rules do not apply to products that have been marketed before the application date.

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Over the past ten years, Parliament has repeatedly called for the introduction of a universal charger. Despite previous efforts in cooperation with industry to reduce the number of chargers, individual measures have not produced concrete results for European consumers. The bill was finally presented by the Commission on 23 September 2021.

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