Reducing electronic waste
The proposal will improve consumer convenience by harmonising charging interfaces and fast charging technology. With this new law, the sale of chargers will be unbundled from the sale of electronic devices, so that a new charger will not necessarily be included when buying a new device. This will reduce the electronic waste associated with the production, transportation and disposal of chargers.
Precisely one of the commitments included in the programme of the mandate of the EU Council presidency between 1 January and 30 June of this year, which falls to France and, specifically, to Emmanuel Macron, is the harmonisation of the use of a useful charger for several devices. Specifically, the text states that “the presidency will work on various projects contributing to a harmonised framework within the single market, while ensuring strong consumer protection”. In this regard, the example they cite is “the proposal for a charger that would make life easier for users and allow environmental objectives to be met”.
In relation to the sale of the devices, the Commission considers that it should be possible to sell them with or without the universal charger included, so as to further reduce the unnecessary emission of waste that this process generates. To improve consumer information, the Council has added an annex to the proposal containing a pictogram indicating whether a charging device is offered with the device, as well as a label explaining the charging specifications.
The Council text also clarifies the technical specifications that a common charger has to have.
The Commission presents a declaration of principles and digital rights
On 26 January, the European Commission presented a declaration of principles and digital rights that advocates “not leaving older people behind in the internet age”. In this sense, the text details that “technology must serve and benefit all Europeans and empower them to pursue their aspirations, in full security and respect for their fundamental rights”. “The digital revolution must be carried out without leaving anyone behind, in particular the elderly, people with disabilities or people who are marginalised, vulnerable or disenfranchised,” the document says.
Principles and rights in the digital age
The aim of this declaration is to put “people at the heart of the digital transformation”. The draft declaration includes key principles and rights in digital transformation, such as putting people and their rights at the centre, supporting solidarity and inclusion, ensuring freedom of choice online, fostering participation in the digital public space, enhancing people’s safety, security and empowerment, and promoting the sustainability of the digital future.
These rights and principles should accompany people in the EU in their everyday life: affordable and high-speed digital connectivity everywhere and for everybody, well-equipped classrooms and digitally skilled teachers, seamless access to public services, a safe digital environment for children, disconnecting after working hours, obtaining easy-to-understand information on the environmental impact of our digital products, controlling how their personal data are used and with whom they are shared.
The declaration is rooted in EU law, from the Treaties to the Charter of Fundamental rights but also the case law of the Court of Justice. It builds on the experience of the European Pillar of Social Rights
The mandate was approved by ambassadors in the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper), which allows the Council presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament once the European Parliament agrees its position.