Labour MEP calls for European universal smartphone charger

MEP Alex Agius Saliba says a European universal charger is needed to address overabundance of chargers which frustrates consumers and harms the environment

Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba has called for a European universal smartphone charger
Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba has called for a European universal smartphone charger

Alex Agius Saliba has called for the creation of a European universal charger for all smartphones, saying the present overabundance of chargers is both frustrating to consumers and harmful to the environment.

The Labour MEP said that after over a decade of industry self-regulation when it came to phone chargers, which has failed to devise a universal type of charging device, it was now the time for the EU to deliver a “common charger”.

"The time has come to deliver one European Universal Charger for smartphones," Agius Saliba said in a press release on Thursday.

"After more than a decade of industry self-regulation, the present situation with an overabundance of chargers, both within brands and among brands, has not changed and continues to frustrate consumers and be harmful to the environment.” 

He highlighted that ten years and two memorandums of understanding signed by leading manufacturers, including Samsung, Apple and Nokia, had not been enough for progress to be made on the issue, and a common smartphone charger remained beyond reach.

“Big multinational companies, like Apple, continue to ignore European recommendations to provide a solution that would have immediate tangible benefits for consumers and the environment. Instead, they systematically and purposely abuse the system for their own profits,” the MEP said.

In view of the lack of progress by manufactuers, the European Commission is currently working on impact assessments and possible regulatory measures to propose a single common charger to make radio equipment, especially mobile phones, more comfortable for consumers and to reduce unnecessary electronic waste and costs.

As the permanent S&D rapporteur on the European Universal Charger and the Radio Equipment Directive, Saliba described the current situation as creating a needless burden for consumers.

"A universal charger that works with many different mobile devices would make it easier to re-use old electronics, save money, and reduce unnecessary costs to the consumer and to the environment,” he underlined.

Companies earned billions of euros a year from sales of smartphones and their chargers, he pointed out. Moreover, some chargers have been patented and are proprietary of the companies, disallowing other companies from producing the same charging equipment. This system accumulates more than 51,000 tons of electronic waste per year.

“I welcome the Commission’s efforts to standardise chargers for mobile phones. Still, more concrete steps are needed. That is why it is high time for the European Commission to go for a regulatory approach making one standard charger mandatory," Saliba, who addressing the Commission during an exchange of views with the Committee of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, stressed.

"We must act on this initiative immediately if we are to bring maximum benefits to consumers and the environment without harming innovation and innovative technologies," he added.