Two weeks ago the European Commission, Council and Parliament reached an agreement on the proposal to amend the Radio Equipment Directive (RED) to require the use of USB-C chargers for many electrical products in the EU and to introduce new requirements for charging technology. In this blog we have summarised what we know so far about the key parts of the agreement.
The European Commission originally proposed 7 products be covered by the common charger proposal, but the European Parliament sought to significantly expand the scope to cover many more portable electronic devices. The compromise was to include 13 different products, follows:
- mobile phones
- portable navigation systems
- portable speakers
- handheld videogame consoles
- digital cameras
The proposals will amend RED to introduce:
- Requirement for USB-C charging port: the product categories listed above will need to have a common (USB-C) charger port from the date of application (which is expected to be Autumn 2024). However, the USB-C requirement for laptops will have a delayed application date, applying after 40 months.
- Fast charging technology: charging speed for devices supporting fast charging technology will be harmonised, so that users can charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger.
- Unbundling: manufacturers will be required to offer consumers the choice of purchasing a new electronic device without a new charger. For now, bundled products can also be sold, provided unbundled products are also offered. An assessment on making unbundling mandatory in all cases will be carried outafter 4 years. In addition, unbundling will only initially apply to the external power supply, and the question of whether the cable should also be unbundled has been deferred for now.
- Consumer information: there will be new information requirements regarding the charging characteristics of new devices, aimed at helping consumers to understand if their existing chargers are compatible. This will include apictogram specifying whether a new device comes with a charger, and a label indicating the charging performance. The exact look of this new labelling information has not yet been published.
- Wireless charging: Harmonising wireless charging technologies was a sticking point in negotiations, and has been deferred for now. Standardisation bodies are being asked to develop a standard for these technologies, and the Commission will be empowered to adopt delegated legislation on the interoperability of wireless charging solutions at a later date.
Timing for application
The provisional agreement still needs to be formally approved, which is expected to happen towards the end of August.
Once approved, the new requirements will apply 24 months after the new law is published in the European Official Journal, meaning they are likely to come into force in Autumn 2024 (with a longer period, as noted above, for laptops to be brought into compliance with the USB-C requirement).
A note on Brexit
Following the announcement that the Commission, Council and Parliament had reached an agreement, the UK government confirmed that it is not currently considering following this approach so, for the time being, we do not expect to see similar requirements for products sold in Great Britain. However, assuming that the Northern Ireland protocol remains in place in its current form, products sold in Northern Ireland will need to comply with these requirements once in force.