A sample of the new common mobile phone charger for Europe has been ceremonially handed over to European industry commissioner Antonio Tajani, ahead of a continent-wide roll-out this year.
The charger was given to Tajani by Bridget Cosgrave, the director-general of tech trade body DigitalEurope, on Tuesday. Fourteen companies including all major phone manufacturers signed up to the scheme in February 2010, and technical specifications for the micro-USB-based charger were published in December.
"I welcome the roll out of new chargers for mobile phones based on the new EU standard," Tajani said in a statement. "This is genuine good news for the European consumer. Now we await the arrival of the new charger and compatible mobile phones on the shelves. I urge industry to speed up their introduction in the market to enable citizens throughout the EU to enjoy the advantages of a common charger as soon as possible."
The agreement signed by the 14 companies does not actually oblige them to include a micro-USB port in their handsets. As a spokesperson for Tajani's department told ZDNet UK, "in order to have a broader scope and to cover mobile phones without micro-USB connector, the agreement allows for the use of an adapter".
The universal charger is intended largely as an environmentally-friendly move, as it will over time make it unnecessary to ship a charger with each new handset. As well as being green, this should also cut down on manufacturers' shipping costs as they will be able to deliver devices in smaller boxes.
Mobile phone manufacturers that signed the agreement, such as Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, have almost all implemented micro-USB ports in their devices. Apple, which has built up a lucrative industry around its proprietary dock connector, has not.
A spokesperson for Apple told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the company was "committed to the Apple dock connector and this initiative will not require us to change it", but refused to say when Apple would — as it has promised to do — start shipping micro-USB adapters with its iPhones.