EU’s 5G Dilemma: No ‘Compromise on Security or Trust’, as Huawei Looks to Build Plants in Europe

Written by | Saturday, February 8th, 2020

The European Union “must not compromise on security or trust. This is key!” former European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding warned earlier in the week, as Chinese telecom giant Huawei announced it would set up manufacturing hubs in Europe. “Huawei is more committed to Europe than ever before,” said Abraham Liu, Huawei’s Chief Representative to the EU institutions, during a Chinese New Year reception in Brussels. As Huawei has tried hard to fight off US pressure on member states to limit its operations in the bloc, Reding stressed that the aim in the rollout of 5G technology is to make sure that everyone abides by the same rules and standards.
The announcement that Huawei plans to start building factories in Europe, so that, as Liu put it, “we can truly have 5G for Europe made in Europe,” came just days after the EU recommended that member states could ban telecoms operators deemed a security risk from critical parts of 5G infrastructure. US President Trump, one of the most vocal critic to alleged security weaknesses and links to the Chinese government, has repeatedly called for the company to be barred from the next generation communications network. Germany, for example, has delayed its decision on a possible ban and a ban on Huawei would ultimately be up to member states.
Referring to 5G technology and the 5G sector as a “game changer”, Viviane Reding, also a former MEP, said that “the aim is not and should not be to ostracize companies but, rather, to ensure that everyone abides by the same rules and standards. With the roll out of 5G this is the way we must do things and Europe must take the lead on this.” Adapting Bill Clinton’s famous phrase, “it’s the economy, stupid,” the former Commission Vice-President said that “It’s the application, stupid!” Thus, Reding welcomed the EU’s “5G security toolbox”, published recently, and emphasized that this will “make security a guarantee for citizens and member states.”

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