It's a nuisance. If you forget your charging cable on vacation, on a business trip or even in the office, you cannot rely on someone else being able to charge your mobile phone, tablet computer, digital camera or e-reader with the charging cable. The number of chargers has decreased significantly. Ten years ago there were 30 different types, today there are only three. But the juxtaposition of Micro-USB, USB-C and Apple's Lightning connections is also sufficient to be far removed from the "cable for all purposes" that has been sought for years. The European Commission therefore no longer wants to leave it to the manufacturers themselves to find a solution. She wants to oblige the manufacturers that all electrical devices - from the Iphone to the digital camera - can be charged via USB-C connection.

Hendrik Kafsack

Business correspondent in Brussels.

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EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton wants to present a corresponding proposal in Brussels this Thursday.

The FAZ has received an eighteen-page draft of the proposal.

Part of the proposal is also that manufacturers must offer their customers new devices without charging cables.

However, the Commission has decided not to completely ban sales with charging cables.

In order to avoid that in future there will be a comparable juxtaposition of different charging stations for wireless charging of electrical devices, the Commission also reserves the right to prescribe a uniform standard for this in a simplified legal procedure.

Parliament's approval is almost certain

Breton's move is not only intended to make life easier for consumers, but also to reduce e-waste. If users could charge all devices with the same cable, this would reduce the amount of electronic waste generated annually by 980 tons, the European Commission calculates in the draft. Consumers could save 250 million euros a year because they could do without buying new charging cables. The costs of retrofitting and selling without charging cables for the manufacturers are more than offset by the fact that retailers can sell the charging cables individually.

Before the new rules can come into force, the EU Parliament and the states must approve Breton's proposal. Parliament's approval is as good as certain. It asked the Commission at the beginning of 2020 to present a proposal for uniform charging cables. The commission originally wanted to do this in autumn 2020, but had postponed the proposal to this autumn because of the corona crisis.

Resistance to the move by Breton is to be expected above all from the American company Apple. He wants to hold on to the Lightning connector that is built into all iPhones, but also some of his tablet computers. Since the EU made the first attempt more than ten years ago to introduce uniform charging cables for mobile phones, Apple has resisted this and argued that standardization hinders innovation.