The European Commission is proposing new regulations aimed at introducing a common charger for devices such as phones, tablets, cameras, and other electronic devices.
The commission says the move will ease “frustration” among consumers, as well as reduce the amount of waste resulting from the production and disposal of different types of chargers.
Around 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in the EU last year.
According to the commission, consumers own an average of around three mobile-phone chargers, of which they use two on a regular basis.
In addition, up to 11,000 tonnes of waste is generated every year by chargers which are unused or thrown away.
Under the proposed Radio Equipment Directive, USB-C will become the standard port for all phones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld video-game consoles. The new rules would also allow consumers to buy new devices without having to buy a charger.
Fast-charging technology will also be harmonised, in a move that the commission says will prevent different producers “unjustifiably” limiting the charging speed.
“Years of working with industry on a voluntary approach already brought down the number of mobile phone chargers from 30 to three within the last decade, but could not deliver a complete solution,” a commission statement said.
“European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers,” said commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
“We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger.”
The move is seen as a setback for Apple, which has opposed the plan. "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," a company statement quoted by Reuters said.
The new directive will now need to be adopted by the European Parliament and the EU Council. The commission says that a transition period of 24 months from the date of adoption will give the industry “ample time” to adapt.
The EU body says that its proposal will bring about interoperability at the device end of the cable. A review of its Ecodesign Regulation will address the interoperability of the external power supply.
The commission hopes to bring both measures into force at the same time.