EU consumers’ evidence shows innovation and environmental impacts with possible common charger regulation

The European Commission is considering adopting legislation to establish a ‘common charger for mobile telephones and other compatible devices’ in the EU: the Common Charger initiative. Our focused policy evaluation study assesses the interaction of policy decisions with EU consumers’ preferences and convenience, the impact to the environment and the effects of forced standardisation curtailing or slowing innovation.

Our key research focus in the study is on the demand-side, i.e. putting EU consumer evidence and impacts at the centre of the analysis. We measure the likely impacts on consumer value from future device-side charger innovation, changes to consumer behaviour and the resulting environmental impact.

In analysing empirical evidence, including evidence from a survey of European electronic device users, our conclusion is that a single connector-type mandate would harm consumers significantly more than it would help either them or the environment.

The evidence we found was clear. The consumer harm from a regulatory-mandated single connector type (at least €1.5bn) significantly outweighs any associated environmental benefits (€13m). On this basis, given the centrality of consumer benefits in policy evaluation, it is unlikely that a Common Charger initiative forcing a single connector type would achieve a positive socio-economic outcome. Even a well-intended policy runs a clear risk of ending up with a significant unintended impact due to the large consumer harm from stifling or delaying innovation in device and connector type design, which consumers have highly valued and continue to value looking forward.

The report highlights evidence from a survey among device users showing that EU consumers:

The survey results also show that having three device-end connector types rather than one is not a concern for consumers in reality since consumers:

The study is commissioned by Apple.

For further information and media enquiries regarding the findings and methodology of this report, please contact Dr Bruno Basalisco, available at

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