EU lays out 5G strategy, sidestepping US calls to ban Huawei

BRUSSELS • The European Union (EU) laid out a broad strategy aimed at ensuring its future 5G networks are secure from cyber threats, but stopped short of meeting US demands for a ban on Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

The US has been pressuring European allies to bar Huawei equipment from telecommunications networks amid concerns Chinese companies could be forced to facilitate espionage by Beijing — accusations both Huawei and the Chinese embassy in the EU have denied. In the recommendation published on Tuesday, the European Commission, left the decision in the hands of the member states.

The EU gave member states until July 15 to report back after carrying out risk assessments of 5G network infrastructure in their individual countries. By the end of December, the countries will need to collectively agree on any EU-wide measures, such as certification requirements, tests or identifying suppliers considered “non-secure”. Countries retain the right to ban companies from their markets for national security reasons.

With no ban in the works, Europe has sought to balance concerns about growing Chinese influence with a desire to increase business with the region’s second-biggest trading partner.

Germany and France have proposed tighter security rules for data networks rather than outlawing Huawei, while the UK’s spy chief has indicated that a ban is unlikely.

A top US defence official on Monday brushed off the notion that Washington’s efforts to dissuade allies from using Huawei have fizzled. — Bloomberg