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Top mobile telephone suppliers have agreed to back an EU-wide harmonization of phone chargers, the European Commission said on Monday.

The agreement by Nokia, Sony Ericsson and others will mean phones compatible with standard charging devices are available in Europe from next year.

“People will not have to throw away their charger whenever they buy a new phone,” said EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, estimating that unwanted phone accessories accounted for thousands of tons of waste in Europe each year.

The Commission said the agreement would involve the creation of an EU norm, and that the new generation of mobile phones would use a standard micro-USB socket to ensure compatibility.

The following 10 companies have signed the MoU; Apple, LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research In Motion, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Texas Instruments. The 10 companies involved control 90 percent of the European market.

The Commission hopes that as people discard their old handsets, within three to four years all data-enabled phones in Europe will be using standardized chargers. There are an estimated 400 million mobile phones in Europe, with 185 million bought each year.

The standardized chargers will be compatible only with European phones, but the EU hopes other countries will follow Europe’s lead.

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