Apple Forced Change Lightning Connect iPhone
Apple will be forced to change its proprietary lightning connector on the iPhone if proposed EU legislation is ratified.Apple

An EU ruling will force all smartphone manufacturers to use microUSB chargers from 2017 - potentially causing trouble for Apple.

MEPs have approved a draft law which states that a common charger should be used for all mobile phones sold in the EU by 2017 and while the legislation still has to be approved by the European Council of Ministers, it has already given its informal consent to the new laws.

Member states will be given until 2016 to introduce the rules into their national laws with smartphone and tablet manufacturers given an additional year to comply.

It will put an end to charger clutter and 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste annually
- Barbara Weiler, MEP

This is just the latest attempt by the EU to introduce a common charger standard, and rapporteur Barbara Weiler believes the move will help the environment as well as consumers:

"This serves the interests both of consumers and the environment. It will put an end to charger clutter and 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste annually"

MicroUSB 

It means that any smartphone or tablet sold within the EU will all have to use the same type of charger, with microUSB the model of choice.

While microUSB has become a virtual standard across most new smartphones which come on the market these days, there are still some manufacturers holding out - with Apple the most obvious offender.

Apple currently uses two proprietary ports on its iPhone, iPad and iPod devices - the older 30-pin charger and the new lightning charger which was introduced in 2012 with the iPhone 5.

While the iPhone 6 - which Apple is expected to launch later this year - won't have to change under EU law, the ruling this week could see Apple take a proactive decision to introduce microUSB as standard ahead of its hand being forced in 2017.

If Apple didn't want to give up using its proprietary ports, it could possibly get around the legislation by including a lightning-to-microUSB adaptor in the box with every new iPhone, iPad or iPod.