Alex Agius Saliba takes on Apple as EU agrees common charger rules

‘If Apple want to benefit from the EU market and consumers they have to abide by our rules,’ Alex Agius Saliba says as EU agrees on common charger rules for electronics

MEP Alex Agius Saliba has led talks on the adoption of EU rules for a common charger for electronic devices
MEP Alex Agius Saliba has led talks on the adoption of EU rules for a common charger for electronic devices

Within two years’ electronic devices from smart phones to tablets and headsets will have to use a common charger if sold within the EU.

The common standard adopted is USB-C, which means that Apple will have to change its smartphone charger.

The new rules spearheaded by Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba were agreed by the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council on Tuesday.

Asked about Apple’s reluctance to change its charging system, Agius Saliba did not mince his words. “If Apple wants to benefit from the EU market and its consumers it will have to abide by our rules,” he told journalists during a press conference in Brussels alongside Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton.

“Apple has two years to conform if it wants to market and sell its smart phones and tablets in the EU,” Agius Saliba replied.

A range of 15 product categories fall within the scope of the regulations, which aim to reduce inconvenience and expense for consumers, while protecting the environment from unnecessary electronic waste.

Agius Saliba, who was the rapporteur on the issue, said the agreement gave consumers “a fairer deal”.

The rules will come into force in two years’ time but laptops will be given a further 16-month extension to conform.

The rules cover most portable electronic devices, including mobile phones, tablets, portable speakers, digital cameras, e-readers, earbuds, computer mice and laptops.

Agius Saliba said the rules will also allow for the creation of standards for wireless charging technology.

“After waiting for more than 10 years we now have an agreement that will help consumers shift to wireless and common charging technology,” he said, adding this will lead to reuse of chargers and save consumers up to €250 million per year.

Commissioner Breton praised Agius Saliba and said the original proposal put forward by the Brussels executive had been accepted and improved upon by parliament.

“We are doing this in the best interest of European consumers, businesses and the environment,” Breton said, noting that the legislation will save more than 1,000 tonnes of electronic waste every year.

Addressing the question on Apple, Breton said that if any company wants to benefit from the world’s largest digital market it can do so based on the rules that will come into force.

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