The Truth Behind The EU Decision To Make Mandatory USB-C In All Devices

The European Commission on this 23 September proposed a revision for the “Radio Equipment Directive” (Directive 2014/53/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on the harmonization of the laws of the Member States relating to the making available on the market of radio equipment and repealing Directive 1999/5/EC), to establish a standard charging solution for all relevant devices. 

 

This proposal was the object of solid rejection and criticism, especially by the multinational technology company Apple and its users. 

 

These criticisms have generated misinformation among users, so we need to understand the reason behind this decision to clarify some points and understand better this change.

 

Causes that justify this change 

 

Technology is advancing at an unstoppable pace. Nowadays, users change mobile phones, tablets, cameras, and more every one or two years. The problem? The old incompatible chargers end up in the trash and are rarely recycled. Consequently, vast tons of electronic waste are generated, with severe consequences for the environment, not only because of the pollution caused by these components but also because more minerals and material resources have to be extracted to manufacture others.

 

This decision aims to end the e-waste and consumer inconvenience caused by the prevalence of different, incompatible chargers for electronic devices.

 

Proposed measures 

 

The EU wants to harmonize the charging port with USB-C, which will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and portable video game consoles, regardless of their brand; and the fast charging technology to avoid those different producers unjustifiably limit the charging speed because it will ensure that charging rate is the same when using any compatible charger for a device.

 

This is not the only change. The Commission proposes to separate the sale of chargers from the sale of electronic devices. Thus, users will treat you differently and will not have unnecessary chargers that are ultimately scrapped. This will also prevent further damage to the environment associated with the production and disposal of these chargers.

 

In this way, users will also avoid the problem of chargers incompatible with their devices.

 

In addition, will be obligated to provide relevant information on the charging performance, the power required by the device and if supports fast charging. This will make it easier for consumers to see if their existing chargers meet the requirements of their new device or help them select a compatible charger.

 

Advantages of this last chance? Consumers will cut back on buying new chargers. They would save money on unnecessary charger purchases.

 

Then why criticize and be against this tremendous change with great benefits to the environment?

 

Fundamental Rights protected 

 

Those changes will increase the level of environmental protection collected in Article 37 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (“A high level of environmental protection and the improvement of the quality of the environment must be integrated into the policies of the Union and ensured in accordance with the principle of sustainable development”.) and protect the right of the consumer as established in Article 38 of the Charter.

 

Legal framework for action: the revision of the Radio Equipment Directive and the Eco-design Regulation

 

The European Commission proposed a new Directive to amend the Directive 2014/53/EU on harmonizing the laws of the Member States relating to the making available on the market of radio equipment.

The European Parliament and the Council must now adopt the proposal to revise the Radio Equipment Directive through the ordinary legislative procedure (co-decision). It will have a transition period of 24 months from the date of adoption, which will give the sector enough time to adapt before it comes into force.

 

Furthermore, the “Eco-design Regulation” (Commission Regulation (EU) 2019/2021 of 1 October 2019 laying down eco-design requirements for electronic displays according to Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, amending Commission Regulation (EC) No 1275/2008 and repealing Commission Regulation (EC) No 642/2009), that is applying since 1 March of 2021 will also be reviewed to be adapted to this proposal and amendments. It should comply with all the energy-related products that account for significant volumes of sales and trade in the Union, have a significant environmental impact, and present considerable potential for improvement through design in terms of their environmental impact, without entailing high costs.

 

All those proposed will have very positive impacts, above all, concerning the protection of the environment. Those measures are a significant step to deliver less e-waste and give consumers a better choice.  

 

It is time to stop looking after the producers’ own economic interests for the proposal to protect consumers and the nature of our wrongdoing.

 

 [1] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_4613.

 

[2] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32014L0053.

 

[3] https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/46755.

 

[4] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R2021.

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