EU Moves One Step Closer to Mandating Apple to Switch iPhone, iPad, and AirPods to USB-C
Members of the European Parliament this week voted overwhelmingly in support of legislation that will compel Apple to offer a USB-C port on all iPhones, iPads, and AirPods in Europe.
The proposal, known as a directive, will force all consumer electronics manufacturers who sell devices in Europe to ensure that all new phones, tablets, laptops, digital cameras, headphones, headsets, handheld videogame consoles, and portable speakers feature a USB-C port, regardless of the manufacturer. Exemptions will only apply for devices that are too small to offer a USB-C port, such as smart watches, health trackers, and some sports equipment. This "common port" would be a world first and impact Apple in particular since it widely uses the Lightning connector instead of USB-C on many of its devices.
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The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee voted to support the legislation on Wednesday, with 43 votes in favor and just two against. In a press release, MEPs claimed that the move will reduce electronic waste, address product sustainability, and make use of different devices more convenient.
MEPs also expressed a wish to see clear information and labelling on new devices about their charging options, as well as whether or nor a product includes a charger. They claim that this will help to avoid confusion and ease purchasing decisions for consumers that own several devices and do not always need additional chargers. Apple removed the charger from all new iPhone models starting with the iPhone 12 in 2020.
In addition, MEPs want the European Commission to present a strategy for ensuring interoperability between wireless charging solutions by 2026 to prevent fragmentation and reduce waste, ensure user convenience, and avoid consumers getting locked into proprietary charging solutions. It is not clear if this would include Apple's MagSafe charging system for the iPhone and AirPods, since it is based on the Qi wireless charging standard.
In 2018, the European Commission tried to reach a final resolution on the issue but it failed to come into law. At the time, Apple warned that forcing a common charging port on the industry would stifle innovation and create electronic waste as consumers were forced to switch to new cables. The EU's effort resumed last year, with the European Commission spearheading a refreshed version of the directive. To come into effect, the European Parliament must approve the draft legislation next month, before talking with individual EU member states about the final directive.