EU demands scrutiny of 5G risks but no bloc-wide Huawei ban

The move shuns US calls to ban China’s Huawei Technologies across the bloc

Photo: European Commission Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip

The European Union’s current approach to potential cybersecurity threats posed by Huawei 5G products is increased security instead of an outright ban. This became clear on Tuesday after the issue was the subject of new recommendations presented  by the European Commission in response to US calls to boycott the electronics giant over fears around its connection to the Chinese government.

Under the issued recommendation by the bloc all EU Member States will be required to share data on 5G cybersecurity risks and introduce measures to tackle them by the end of the year. The aim is to use tools available under existing security rules plus cross-border cooperation. 

At EU level, once the Cybersecurity Act, recently approved by the European Parliament, enters into force in the coming weeks, the Commission and ENISA will set up the EU-wide certification framework. And Member States would be encouraged to cooperate with the Commission and ENISA to prioritise a certification scheme covering 5G networks and equipment.

Yet, the language certainly doesn’t close the door to an outright ban moving forward since the EU notes that "EU Member States have the right to exclude companies from their markets for national security reasons, if they do not comply with the country's standards and legal framework."

It is however obvious that the EU realises the risks of an outright ban on Huawei for the 5G development across the bloc and stops short of suggesting a similar outright ban to the one implemented by the US government. Instead the report rightly notes that coming 5G technologies will ensure the strategic autonomy of the Union by forming the backbone of some of society’s most foundational elements, from banking, to transportation, health, industry and even democracies. Thus, for Europe to compete in the global market it is the cybersecurity cooperation, not banning crucial at the moment.

”5G technology will transform our economy and society and open massive opportunities for people and businesses,” European digital chief Andrus Ansip said in a statement tied to the recommendation. “But we cannot accept this happening without full security built in. It is therefore essential that 5G infrastructures in the EU are resilient and fully secure from technical or legal backdoors.”

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