EU urges member nations to ban Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE from 5G networks due to security risk
The European Union (EU) has called on its member states to ban Chinese telecommunications giants Huawei Technologies and ZTE from their 5G networks as soon as possible, citing security risks.
EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton announced the ban at a press conference in the Belgian capital Brussels on June 15. He added that the European Commission (EC) would remove Huawei and ZTE equipment from commission facilities across the continent. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the EU’s move escalates its efforts to address the security risks linked to Chinese 5G providers.
Breton stressed the urgency of the situation, mentioning that the slow progress “poses a major security risk and exposes the union’s collective security since it creates a major dependency for the EU and serious vulnerabilities.” The SCMP noted that “the influence of specific third countries with security laws and corporate governance poses a risk to EU security.”
Back in 2020, the EC recommended removing “high-risk” suppliers from member states’ networks without specifying any particular companies. Frustration by the slow progress in implementing this recommendation led Brussels to publicly name Huawei and ZTE. The two companies had already faced market restrictions in 10 of the 27 EU member nations.
According to SCMP, Brussels’ decision to ban Huawei and ZTE aligns with the U.S.’s approach. Washington has been gradually reducing its reliance on external companies for its own networks.
Overall, the move seeks to minimize dependencies on China and prevent European technology from falling into the hands of Beijing. (Related: US and UK partner up to ban Huawei from 5G surveillance and data collection.)
Huawei decries potential EU ban
The Shenzhen-based Huawei decried the potential ban, claiming that such a move would be “unfair and unlawful.” According to the telecommunications firm, it is wrong to politicize technology assessments and cybersecurity evaluations.
A spokesperson for Huawei Europe strongly opposed the plan, explaining that such a move is not in the best interest of any party involved. Any such ban violates the principles and laws of the EU and its member states, the spokesperson said.
According to the company, exclusions based on non-technical judgments come with “severe and economic and social risks.” Such actions would hinder innovation, distort the EU market and drive up costs for consumers of digital services.
“Throughout our time in Europe, there is no record showing back doors in our equipment,” the spokesperson added.
According to a study by the Copenhagen-based consultancy firm Strand Consult, Chinese vendors supplied over 50 percent of the 5G equipment in 31 European countries by the end of 2022. Germany obtained 59 percent of its equipment from Chinese vendors, with Huawei enjoying a higher market share in Berlin than in Beijing.
But Germany isn’t the only one that procured 5G equipment from Huawei as other EU countries like Italy, Portugal, Austria, Poland and Spain have also done so. The Chinese firm has been actively involved in the continent’s 5G rollout since its inception, and nearly 60 percent of the company’s 50 global 5G commercial contracts were signed with European operators.
The EU is facing mounting pressure from the U.S. to drop Huawei, with Washington putting the company on a trade blacklist back in 2019. Other Western nations like Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand have also banned Huawei.
Berlin was reportedly considering removing Huawei and another Chinese company from its 5G networks. Meanwhile, Lisbon was also exploring a potential policy change to ban certain 5G equipment – including that of Huawei’s.
Visit NationalSecurity.news for more stories about Beijing spying on other nations via Chinese 5G equipment.
Watch this video about former President Donald Trump deeming Huawei a “threat to national security.”
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