The European Commission wants the whole bloc to harmonise around a single device interface and has decided it should be USB-C.

The European Commission had this to say on the matter: “Years of working with industry on a voluntary approach already brought down the number of mobile phone chargers from 30 to 3 within the last decade, but could not deliver a complete solution,” laments the EC press release. “The Commission is now putting forward legislation to establish a common charging solution for all relevant devices.”

EU politicians have been campaigning for a common standard for over a decade, with the Commission’s research estimating that disposed of and unused charging cables generate more than 11,000 tonnes of waste per year.

In the European Union, around 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in the last year. The average person owns around three mobile phone chargers, of which they use two regularly. In 2009, there were more than 30 different chargers, whereas now most models stick to three – the USB-C, Lightning and USB micro-B. It would undoubtedly be handy to not have to keep multiple types of charger leads around.

“Having one common charging standard would be a victory for common sense in the eyes of consumers,” Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight said. “Although Apple has made a strong argument for keeping its Lightning connector, given the one billion active iPhone users, some of its products including Mac and iPad now support USB-C.”


“European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers,” said Margrethe Vestager, EVP for a Europe fit for the Digital Age. “We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions.”

Unstated but very much the elephant in the room is Apple, as it’s the only significant smartphone maker to have already made the switch to USB-C. Surely that’s a matter entirely between Apple and its customers who, if its sales numbers are anything to go by, are far from frustrated with the situation. However, the generic response below indicates Apple is fairly resigned to the unstoppable force that is the EC once it gets going, so it will probably get into line once the legislation is rubber-stamped by the EU’s joke of a parliament.