Europe backs call for universal smartphone charger

Phone charger plugs Phone chargers still come in all shapes and sizes

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The maddening scramble to find the right charger for your smartphone could be coming to an end.

European politicians have backed a regulation that will force smartphone makers to use just one type of charger.

On Thursday MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the regulation, which will see a common charger used for smartphones by 2017.

The regulation was drawn up to help consumers and to cut down on the amount of electronic waste.

"This serves the interests both of consumers and the environment," said MEP Barbara Weiler in a statement. "It will put an end to charger clutter and 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste annually."

The regulation is still only a draft law and must be approved by Europe's council of ministers. However, that body has already given its informal backing to the law, suggesting it will win final approval.

European member states will have until 2016 to translate the regulation into national laws and manufacturers will then have 12 months to switch to the new design. The process of getting manufacturers to agree on a common design began in 2009.

The design of charger being favoured uses a Micro USB connector - a format used on many handsets and other devices already.

Apple has yet to respond to the proposals as it is one of the few manufacturers that produces gadgets with proprietary power ports. However, it was one of the original signatories of the agreement Europe reached with manufacturers to produce the chargers.

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