EU saves us from charger racket

The EU has stepped in and created a regulation which will force smartphone makers to use just one type of charger.

Last Thursday MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the regulation, which will see a common charger used for smartphones by 2017. The big idea is that it will cut down on the amount of electronic waste, but it will also mean that you only need one charger in the EU and not have to search around in a spaghetti of wires looking for the right one.

MEP Barbara Weiler said in a statement that it serves the interests both of consumers and the environment, by putting an end to charger clutter and 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste annually.

The regulation is still only a draft law and must be approved by Europe’s council of ministers. However, that body has already given its informal backing to the law, suggesting it will win final approval.

What this means is that all electronic devices in the EU will have to use a standard Micro USB connector – a format used on many handsets and other devices already.

However, it will put a spanner in the works for Apple which uses proprietary power ports. Signs are positive that it will go along with the plan, as it was one of the original signatories of the agreement Europe reached with manufacturers to produce the chargers. However, with Apple it is impossible to tell until the last minute. It has not played very nicely with the EU over other consumer law, particularly when it comes to warranties.