The European Union is one step closer to forcing Apple and other electronics vendors to use a single charging standard for phones and tablets.
On Tuesday, the European Parliament gave final approval to new rules that will apply to small and medium-sized electronics from the end of 2024. Larger devices, such as laptops, will begin to fall under the rules in the spring of 2026.
The first law of its kind will require many new devices sold in the EU to use the USB-C charging standard. Examples of other covered electronics include rechargeable cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and handheld video game consoles.
The decision will largely end proprietary charging standards on the trading block, such as Apple’s Lightning connector, which is currently used for iPhones.
The EU proposal has called for similar standards in other parts of the world. Earlier this year, in the United States, a trio of Democratic senators asked the Commerce Department to develop a “comprehensive strategy” for charging supplements, citing consumer concerns and environmental waste.
During the EU legislative process, Apple told officials that the proposed rule would make a billion devices and accessories that use the Lightning connector obsolete, according to an EU Parliament report.
A 2021 study cited in the same report found that iPhones with Lightning connectors accounted for 18% of new smartphone sales in 2019, with 44% using USB-C and 38% using an older USB connector known as Micro-B.
Tuesday’s vote is one of the formal steps needed to finalize the policy put in place by EU officials this summer. This measure gained strong support in the EU Parliament with 602 votes to approve, 13 votes against and 8 abstentions.
It now goes to the European Council for final approval.