5G: EU countries to announce 5G guidelines on Wednesday, impact likely on Huawei
The European Commission will on Wednesday announce guidelines allowing EU countries to restrict or exclude high-risk 5G vendors from core parts of their networks, a move likely to hurt China’s Huawei Technologies but which may not appease the United States.
The non-binding recommendations, agreed by the bloc’s 28 countries, seek to tackle cybersecurity risks at national and EU level, with concerns mainly focused on Huawei [HWT.UL], although the guidelines do not identify any particular country or company.
The United States wants the bloc to ban Huawei on fears that its gear could be used by China for spying, allegations rejected by the company.
The EU, however, is hoping a collective approach based on a checklist of risks and targeted measures will take some of the U.S. pressure off.
EU digital chief Margrethe Vestager and EU industry chief Thierry Breton will present the guidelines at a press conference later on Wednesday.
Britain on Tuesday opted to allow Huawei to supply equipment for non-sensitive parts of its 5G network rather than bow to U.S. pressure and ban the company completely.
The guidelines call on EU countries to assess the risk profile of suppliers and allow them to exclude high risk companies from core infrastructure, according to an EU document seen by Reuters..
EU countries are also advised to set up a legal or regulatory framework to control the use of outsourced suppliers and their access to critical parts of the network. Telecoms operators will have to provide details on the sourcing of 5G equipment.
Johnson faces Tory rebellion after allowing Huawei 5G role
Boris Johnson is facing a possible rebellion over his decision to allow China’s Huawei to build part of Britain’s 5G infrastructure.
Senior Tories are examining whether they could try to force a Commons vote on tightening restrictions on Huawei or reduce the cap on its market share further from 35% in the coming years.
The culture secretary, Nicky Morgan, toured the airwaves on Wednesday defending the government’s decision, saying the cabinet was “clear-eyed” about the risks of Huawei as a “high-risk vendor” with links to the Chinese state.
She argued that Britain’s security services had already been dealing with Huawei in the 4G network for years and therefore it did “not present the security challenge that others are worried about”.
However, that has not reassured many Tory backbenchers, who are concerned that the US and Australia have banned Huawei over fears China could use the company’s role in the network for spying.
Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, told the BBC’s Newsnight: “We want to see modifications and changes made. We want to see commitment to actually getting Huawei out of the system over a period of time. They’ve got more to do.”
Any rebellion would require more than 40 Tories to defy Johnson over the decision when legislation relating to Ofcom’s oversight of Huawei comes to the House of Commons.
The government announced its unanimous decision on Tuesday after a meeting of the national security council.
The company’s share of the new market will be capped at 35% for each of Britain’s four mobile phone operators, and it will be banned from core parts of the telecoms network and from sensitive sites, including nuclear and military facilities.
Huawei was also formally deemed a “high-risk vendor” because its Chinese ownership meant Beijing could in theory force it to carry out surveillance of British citizens in the future.
However, the Times reported that the defence secretary, Ben Wallace, had spoken out against the decision in the meeting, saying that China was a “friend of no one”.
In spite of reservations in the UK, Johnson did appear to have averted a full-blown public confrontation with the US government over Huawei.
The Trump administration had given a series of strongly worded warnings about the security risks in the run-up to the decision, but was prepared to soften its stance after a phone call between the British prime minister and the US president on Tuesday afternoon.
Sources said that while the US remained disappointed with the decision to allow “an untrusted vendor” into the UK market, the security and economic relationship between the two countries was too important to jeopardise in a row over mobile phone technology.
UK and US sources said the two countries would try to work together to further reduce the use of Huawei in Britain, with Downing Street hoping it has been able to persuade the notoriously unpredictable US president not to escalate the issue.
But leading Republicans have criticised the government’s decision. Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, said it amounted to a “major defeat” for the US.
Tom Cotton, a Republican senator, described the decision as like allowing the KGB to build the UK’s telephone network during the cold war.