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EU pulls plug on cable clutter

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IMCO, Statement by Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee Chair, Anna Cavazzini (Greens/EFA, DE), on the common charger proposal presented today by the Commission: “Over the past decade, the European Parliament has pushed for the Commission to table a proposal for a common charger with a view to tackle e-waste, make life easier for consumers and empower them to make sustainable choices.

"This initiative includes many elements that are important to our committee, such as the harmonisation of the charging point enabling the smooth functioning of the internal market, a high level of consumer protection and reducing electronic waste.

"We must finally get rid of the cable clutter in our drawers; we had enough of having the wrong charging cable in our backpack for the device we are carrying. Uniform charging cables will help consumers to save money and save the planet’s resources.

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"Electrical and electronic equipment continues to be one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU. It is particularly important that the proposed rules apply not only to smartphones but also to tablets and other mobile devices, as requested by Parliament. Rapid technological developments must be taken into account, especially since the Commission has already wasted so much time.

"Parliament will now be working on this legislative proposal. We will do our utmost to ensure smooth cooperation with the Commission and the Council to reach an agreement that will benefit European consumers as well as the industry, with the objectives of the European Green Deal at its core.”

“We have all been in situations in our life when, for example on a train, my smartphone’s battery is empty so my neighbour would like to lend me a charger from their device. But it doesn’t work as it has a different connector,” said the EPP Group’s Róża Thun MEP, who proposed the European Parliament’s Resolution on the matter last year.

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“We need a solution to the drawers full of useless chargers. An average EU citizen produces approximately 16kg of e-waste per year. By introducing one charger for all small and medium-sized electronic devices, we can try to solve this dramatic situation”, stressed Thun. “There is a big benefit for European consumers with this new law, who would not then be obliged to buy a new charger every time they buy a new device.”

Background

The European Parliament and its Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) have been insisting on a common charger solution for years, continuously asking the Commission to act upon it through own-initiative reports, resolutions, and questions addressed to the Commissioners.

In 2014, Parliament strongly advocated for a common charger for all mobile phones during the negotiations of the Radio Equipment Directive (RED).

Since then, several other Parliament initiatives have directly or indirectly asked for mobile phone chargers to be standardised, such as a resolution adopted on 30 January 2020 calling on the Commission to introduce a standard for a common charger “as a matter of urgency”.

Moreover, in a recent resolution from 10 February 2021 on the new circular economy action plan, MEPs called on the Commission to introduce urgently a common charger for smartphones and similar devices to best ensure standardised, compatible and interoperable charging options and asked the Commission to prepare a decoupling strategy for chargers and harmonized labelling.

Commissioner Thierry Breton, responsible for the internal market, said: “Chargers power all our most essential electronic devices. With more and more devices, more and more chargers are sold that are not interchangeable or not necessary. We are putting an end to that. With our proposal, European consumers will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics – an important step to increase convenience and reduce waste.”

Today (23 September), the Commission is proposing:

  • A harmonised charging port for electronic devices: USB-C will be the common port. This will allow consumers to charge their devices with the same USB-C charger, regardless of the device brand.
  • Harmonised fast charging technology will help prevent that different producers unjustifiably limit the charging speed and will help to ensure that charging speed is the same when using any compatible charger for a device.
  • Unbundling the sale of a charger from the sale of the electronic device: consumers will be able to purchase a new electronic device without a new charger. This will limit the number of unwanted chargers purchased or left unused. Reducing production and disposal of new chargers is estimated to reduce the amount of electronic waste by almost a thousand tonnes' yearly.
  • Improved information for consumers: producers will need to provide relevant information about charging performance, including information on the power required by the device and if it supports fast charging. This will make it easier for consumers to see if their existing chargers meet the requirements of their new device or help them to select a compatible charger. Combined with the other measures, this would help consumers limit the number of new chargers purchased and help them save €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases.

The EU's common charger will be applicable to the following devices: Mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones, headsets, portable speakers, and handheld videogame consoles.

European Commission

EU Cohesion policy: First Gender Equality Report maps female achievements and disadvantages in EU regions

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The Commission has published the first Regional Gender Equality Monitor of the EU. It provides an accurate picture of where women achieve the most at regional level in Europe, and where they face the largest disadvantages. Cohesion and Reform Commissioner Elisa Ferreira (pictured) said: “I am delighted to bring forward this ground-breaking work on mapping the glass ceiling that women face at regional level in Europe. The report demonstrates that there is still a lot to do to help women achieve the same opportunities as men. The Commission will continue working hard towards a gender-equal Europe.”

The paper is based on two specially developed indices: the ‘Female Achievement Index' and the ‘Female Disadvantage Index'. They reveal both the regions where women are achieving more and where they are at a disadvantage compared to men. The paper shows that, on average, women in more developed regions are able to achieve more and are at less of a disadvantage, while most women in less developed regions face big challenges. Within countries, women in capital regions tend to achieve more and are at less of a disadvantage. In general, regions with a lower female achievement index have a lower gross domestic product per capita, while regions with a higher level of female achievement have a higher level of human development. Finally, the quality of government is higher in regions where women achieve more.

In addition to the working paper, the underlying data and the interactive tools, results are also available in the INTERACTIVE DATA STORY.

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European Commission

High Representative/Vice President Borrell travels to Washington

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High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell (pictured) will be in Washington DC to 15 October. He will hold a number of high-level meetings focused on the relationship between the European Union and the United States of America, on advancing the transatlantic agenda and on pressing international developments. This will be the first official visit by High Representative Borrell to Washington since the new US administration took up office. On Thursday, 14 October, High Representative Borrell will meet with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss current foreign policy issues and initiatives to deepen further the EU-US strategic partnership and advance an already close cooperation on foreign and security policy. He will also hold a meeting with the US Deputy Secretary of Defence Kathleen Hicks to discuss how to pursue enhanced bilateral co-operation in the field of security and defence. More information is available here.

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European Commission

Commission participation in the Annual Meetings of World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund

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Several members of the Commission will participate in the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) taking place this week in Washington DC, United States of America. The meetings will bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector representatives, civil society, and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, global financial stability, poverty eradication, jobs and growth, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni will attend the meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors and the G7 ministerial meeting. Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis will participate virtually in the plenary session of the International Monetary and Financial Committee. A written statement will be contributed by Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, to the plenary session of the Development Committee Meeting.

This meeting will revolve around two topics: ‘WBG Financing for Green, Resilient and Inclusive Development (GRID) – Towards A Post Pandemic Approach' as well as ‘Prevention, Preparedness, and Response: The WBG's Role in Future Crises'. Commissioner Gentiloni will also appear at an event organised by the Brookings Institution and will hold an exchange of views with the US Chamber of Commerce on the economic outlook and current policy priorities on Thursday, 14 October.

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