THE hours spent combing the office to find a mobile phone charger to fit your handset will soon be over, after much of European Unions telecom industry committed to producing a common charger. In addition to reducing consumer frustration, the move by 10 of the main manufacturers should also cut down on waste when old chargers are thrown away. The European Commission estimates that old chargers create several thousand tons of waste annually. Manufacturers supporting the move include Apple, LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research Motion, Samsung, Sony Ericsion and Texas Instruments. The move may also cut long-run costs for consumers because they will be able to buy new phones without chargers, as well as more cost-effective standalone chargers. Gunter Verheugen, EU industry commissioner, said the manufacturers agreed to harmonise chargers in the EU in a memorandum of understanding submitted to the European Commission. Brussels backing should accelerate existing efforts by the mobile phone industry to simplify its chargers. An alliance of 17 device manufacturers and mobile operators, led by the GSM Association, a trade body, in February pledged to adopt the same charger technology as standard. Mobile operators have been pushing for such a move for even longer. The deal, which covers only the EU area, followed threats of legislation if a voluntary solution could not be found. It will apply to data-enabled mobile phones - which can eb plugged into a computer to exchange pictures and files. The first generation of inter-chargeable phones should be in the high street from 2010, the Commission said. In most cases, they will charge within two hours. The days of drawers full of useless old mobile phone chargers will soon be over... It is particularly welcome that the Commission was able to reach agreement with the industry without introducing new regulation, said Malcolm Harbour, a British Conservative MEP. But while consumer groups welcomed the progress, they expressed disappointment the deal did not cover the entire market - in terms of both phones and manufacturers. Beuc, the umbrella group for national consumer associations, said the problem was not confined to phone chargers but embraced other portable electronic equipment, such as MP3 players. Financial Times