The EU just came one step closer to mandating a common charger for cell phones

One of these must fit.
One of these must fit.
Image: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
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The European Union wants every cell phone sold in Europe, whether smart or otherwise, to come with a standard charger. Today the EU came one step closer to that goal. Members of European parliament, the supra-state’s legislative body, finally convinced the Council of Ministers, another powerful body, of the importance of the legislation, which the parliament sees as reducing waste as well as making life easier for consumers who switch from one phone to another.

According to Barbara Weiler, who led the negotiations, the Council and the European Commission, the main executive body “were hesitant at first.” Even with their nod, it will be a while before the rule comes into force. The parliament still needs to vote on the law, which can only happen after agreement from member states and another committee vote, which means the law probably won’t be signed until March of next year. Even after that, member states will be given two years to bring national law in line with European law, and manufacturers another year to comply, which means it will be at least 2017 before chargers are homogenized across the Union.

The implications of this will be felt mostly by Apple, which does not use the micro-USB charger common among most other manufacturers. Still, 2017 is far away and a lot can happen, including changes to charger design and technology or interminable delays in the legislative process. After all,  this is something the EU has been talking about for a very long time. Reports were saying universal chargers could become a reality within six months as long ago as 2009.