On instigation of the European Commission, the European standardization organisations CEN-CENELEC and ETSI have decided that microUSB will be the standard for charging cellphones.
Maybe you'll ask: wasn't that the standard already? Indeed, many manufacturers shifted towards microUSB for charging their cellphones last years. Pretty useful, as it doesn't matter as much as before whether you brought the right charger with you or not. A HTC Legend can for instance be charged with the charger that came with the BlackBerry Curve 9300.
One of the manufacturers that hasn't adopted microUSB yet, is Apple. With the new rules, that company should shift towards the standard as well. Apple already signed a contract in which it promises to use microUSB on future products. The European government expects all manufacturers to use the new standard within two years from now. In 2009, large manufacturers agreed upon the standard. Next to Apple, also Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG, Motorola en RIM took part in the agreement.
The goal of the uniformity is not only the ease of use for the consumer. The environment serves as an argument as well. Old chargers will no longer be useless after the purchase of a new cell phone. That saves wasting them, says the EU.