The European Commission has ignored U.S. calls to ban Chinese tech supplier Huawei as it announced a series of new cybersecurity recommendations for next-generation mobile networks.
In its guidance for the rollout of ultrafast fifth-generation, or 5G, telecom systems across the European Union over coming years, the Commission urged member states to assess cyber threats to the 5G infrastructure in their national markets.
The EU’s executive branch said Tuesday that information should then be shared among EU countries as part of a coordinated effort to develop a “toolbox of mitigating measures” by the end of the year to combat cybersecurity risks across the EU.
Commission guidance is non-binding but EU countries often use it as the basis for their own policies.
The proposals are a setback for the United States, which has been lobbying allies in Europe to shun Huawei over fears its equipment could be used by China’s communist leaders to carry out cyberespionage.
Privately owned Huawei has consistently denied such allegations, and its founder has said the company would never hand over sensitive information.
5G mobile networks promise superfast download speeds with little signal delay, advances that are expected to underpin a new wave of innovation, including connected cars, remote medicine and factory robots.
5G technology will transform economies and society, “but we cannot accept this happening without full security built in,” said EU digital commissioner Andrus Ansip.
Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecom infrastructure equipment such as radio base stations and network switches, competes with Scandinavian rivals Nokia and Ericsson. The commission’s announcement did not mention Huawei, leaving it up to EU countries to decide on whether to ban it.
Countries should assess “risks linked to the behavior of suppliers or operators, including those from third countries,” and “have the right to exclude companies from their markets for national security reasons,” the commission said.
The issue has taken on more urgency as EU countries prepare to auction off 5G frequencies to telecom operators. The U.S. warned Germany, which began its auction earlier this month, that allowing untrustworthy companies to supply equipment could jeopardize the sharing of sensitive information.