The Trump Administration probably didn’t need any more convincing that the longstanding post-war economic and military alliance between the US and Europe now exists solely on paper. But it got it all the same.
Just days after Beijing officially annexed Italy to the BRI, and with Brussels still deliberating what can be done to put Europe back on an even economic footing with China, the bloc has decidedly rejected Washington’s efforts to muscle Huawei out of the global 5G market. First, individual EU capitals unanimously rejected Washington’s warnings that Huawei posed an intractable national security, and refused to disallow the company’s telecoms equipment from being used in domestic 5G networks.
And on Tuesday, the European Commission tacitly embraced Huawei by refusing to recommend that member states exclude the company, a recommendation made in a set of security guidelines, Reuters reports.
EU member states will be required to share information about cybersecurity risks related to 5G, and even develop a plan to tackle them before the end of the year. But for all of Washington’s lobbying, the Commission has refused to specifically target Huawei.
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According to ABC News, EU countries will have until the end of June to study 5G cybersecurity risks. Their findings will be incorporated into a bloc-wide assessment before Oct. 1. Using this assessment, the EU would need to agree on a plan to mitigate these risks by the end of the year. Experts said some measures could include certification requirements and tests of products or suppliers deemed security risks.
EU Digital Commissioner Andrus Ansip said this plan would help ensure that Europe’s 5G infrastructure would be “resilient” to attack.
Andrus Ansip said that the measures announced on Tuesday aimed to address concerns about foreign governments using companies for espionage. Ansip said that 5G technology would transform the economy and society, but that this cannot happen 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,” Ansip said in a statement.
5G technology will transform economies and society, “but we cannot accept this happening without full security built in,” said EU digital commissioner Andrus Ansip.
The fight to exclude Huawei, which may finally be impacting the trade talks between Washington and Beijing, has taken on extra urgency as EU countries prepare to auction off 5G frequencies to telecom operators. Germany began the auction earlier this month (and its leader Angela Merkel soundly rejected Washington’s lobbying on Huawei).
Huawei, meanwhile, has denied accusations that it is beholden to the Chinese state, and mocked Washington’s hypocrisy, gleefully invoking the revelations leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and questioning whether Washington is the real “security threat.”
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