EU allows members to decide on China’s Huawei in 5G network

The European Union followed Britain’s example on Wednesday, allowing members to decide what part China’s Huawei Technologies can play in its 5G telecoms networks and resisting pressure from Washington for an outright ban.
Huawei 5G base station in China
EU countries can either restrict or exclude high-risk 5G vendors like Huawei from core parts of their telecoms networks, according to the guidelines.

Britain granted Huawei a limited role in its 5G mobile network on Tuesday, frustrating an attempt by the United States to exclude the Chinese telecoms giant from the West’s next-generation communications.

Huawei is the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, competing with Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia.

The United States wants the world to ban Huawei from 5G networks on fears that its gear could be used by China for spying.

The European Union sees 5G as key to boosting economic growth and competing with the United States and China and its recommendations, agreed by EU members, are that individual countries assess the risks and decide whether to exclude suppliers from core infrastructure, Reuters reported.

The approach means non-EU providers are welcome in Europe as long as they comply with the rules, Europe’s industry chief Thierry Breton told a news conference. “We are not picking on anybody, we are not ostracizing firms,” he said.

Huawei welcomed the guidelines, describing them as non-biased and fact-based.

EU governments were advised to use several 5G providers rather than depend on one network company. The providers should be assessed on technical and non-technical factors including the risk of interference by state-backed companies, according to the guidelines.

The Commission said it was ready to bolster the bloc’s 5G cybersecurity by using trade defense tools against dumping or foreign subsidies.

Lobbying group ETNO, whose members include Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telefonica who all use Huawei equipment, earlier warned against disproportionate actions which may affect their investments.

“Europe’s decision-making on 5G should continue being based on facts, it should be proportionate to threats and build on a solid understanding of technology reality,” ETNO said in a statement.

EU countries have until April to implement the guidelines and June to report on their progress.