EU defies US’ calls to ban Huawei, granting Chinese tech firm limited role in 5G rollout

29 Jan, 2020

The European Commission has issued its guidance on 5G and the role that “high-risk” vendors should play in networks. It followed the UK’s lead in stopping short of recommending a ban on Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Member states should agree on the best way to secure their 5G networks by April 30 and report on their progress by June, the EC said.

The non-binding recommendations set out by the European Commission call for “relevant restrictions” to be applied at the national and EU-wide level to “high-risk” suppliers without specifying any companies.

“Today we are equipping EU member states, telecoms operators and users with the tools to build and protect a European infrastructure with the highest security standards so we all fully benefit from the potential that 5G has to offer,” EU industry chief Thierry Breton said.

European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager added: “We can do great things with 5G. The technology supports personalized medicines, precision agriculture and energy grids that can integrate all kinds of renewable energy.” According to Vestager, “This will make a positive difference. But only if we can make our networks secure. Only then will the digital changes benefit all citizens.”

Huawei welcomed the decision, saying in a statement: “This non-biased and fact-based approach towards 5G security allows Europe to have a more secure and faster 5G network.”

The EU’s announcement follows the UK’s decision on Tuesday to give the Chinese tech giant a limited role in 5G roll-out.

Both the UK and EU ruled in defiance of pressure from Washington to ban Huawei, which the US claims poses a security risk. Huawei has consistently said that it is a private company and is not subject to Chinese state interference.

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