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EU panel backs plans for common worldwide phone charger

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The European Union's bid to adopt a common charging port for mobile phones, tablets and headphones took a step forward on Wednesday, paving the way for an assembly vote next month.

The first proposal for a single mobile charging port was made by the European Commission over a decade ago, hoping phone makers would be able to find a common solution. After they failed to do so, the Commission proposed draft legislation last year, a world first.

On Wednesday (20 April), the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee agreed with the Commission's proposal.

"With half a billion chargers for portable devices shipped in Europe each year, generating 11,000 to 13,000 tonnes of e-waste, a single charger for mobile phones and other small and medium electronic devices would benefit everyone," said Alex Agius Saliba, the leader of the parliamentary debate.

Currently, Apple's iPhones are charged from a Lightning cable while Android-based devices are powered using USB-C connectors. As of 2021, 67.21 per cent of phones sold in the EU are Android devices.

The committee wants the USB Type-C port to be the standard for mobile phones, tablets, headphones, e-readers, low-powered laptops, keyboards, computer mice, earbuds, smart watches and electronic toys.

An 18-page directive published by the European Commission estimates that the proposal will save EU consumers €250m (£214m) a year, in addition to reducing electronic waste. However, technology giants disagree. 

In a September 2021 statement, Apple said: "We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world.”

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