Apple is fighting calls from EU lawmakers to eliminate its Lightning charger

Apple is fighting calls from EU lawmakers to eliminate its Lightning charger

Apple is challenging proposals by members of the European Parliament to force the company to adopt a standard, universal charger for mobile devices to replace its proprietary Lightning cable, according to Business Insider.

Lawmakers argue that forcing consumers to rely on the Apple-exclusive Lightning cable generates a massive amount of electronic waste, by rendering other cables obsolete. The European Commission estimates that obsolete and extraneous cables create 51,000 tons of e-waste annually. 

“This is hugely detrimental for the environment,” according to European Parliament member Alex Agius Saliba. “A common charger should fit all mobile phones, tablets, e-book readers and other portable devices.”

The commission has been promoting the idea of a universal charger for over a decade. In 2009, there were over 30 different chargers on the market from different device manufacturers. Apple, Nokia, Samsung, and others signed a pledge to make devices compatible with micro-USB as a standard. Today, many devices still use micro-USB, while newer Android devices use USB-C.

But in 2012, Apple debuted its Lightning port, relying on a loophole that simply required a micro-USB adapter to be made available. 

Earlier this month, European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič argued that the voluntary agreement has failed. 

Apple is now making the case that further regulation would stifle innovation, and would have prevented the development of improved chargers like Lightning and USB-C in the first place. Furthermore, making existing Lightning chargers obsolete would itself create vast quantities of e-waste, the company says.

“Apple stands for innovation and deeply cares about the customer experience. We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole,” the company said in a statement.

“More than 1 billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers. Legislation would have a direct negative impact by disrupting the hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories used by our European customers and even more Apple customers worldwide, creating an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconveniencing users.”

They also note that Apple’s devices are already moving away from Lightning cables, with USB-C already in use in laptops and on the latest version of the iPad pro. 

Regulators will vote on the issue, and if enforced, Apple would be required to offer a new charging method in Europe—most likely USB-C.

Photo by randychiu [CC BY (]