EU Recommends Limiting Huawei, Not Banning It

Posted on January 29, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud with 7 Comments

The European Union recommended that its member states limit but not ban Huawei and other so-called “high-risk” vendors from taking part in the 5G networking buildout. The recommendation comes in the wake of a similar decision by the UK and is a rebuke to the United States, which has been trying to give companies in that country an advantage against the Chinese by drumming up fears about privacy and espionage.

The U.S. isn’t completely alone in its fear of China, of course. But those arguments didn’t sway the EU to ban Huawei and other Chinese firms outright, as the U.S. had hoped.

“Today we are equipping EU member states, telecoms operators, and users with the tools to build and protect a European infrastructure with the highest security standards so we all fully benefit from the potential that 5G has to offer,” EU industry chief Thierry Breton said in a prepared statement. “Europe has everything it takes to lead the technology race. Be it developing or deploying 5G technology, our industry is already well off the starting blocks.”

The EU’s recommendation came via non-binding guidelines that it issued to its 28 member states, which is the most it can do legally. The governments of each EU country will decide whether they will allow Huawei and other so-called high-risk vendors in their 5G infrastructures.

That said, the EU member states have in effect already agreed to the guidelines, since each was represented in a network and information systems (NIS) cooperation group that created them.

“Member States agreed to strengthen security requirements, to assess the risk profiles of suppliers, to apply relevant restrictions for suppliers considered to be high risk including necessary exclusions for key assets considered as critical and sensitive (such as the core network functions), and to have strategies in place to ensure the diversification of vendors,” the announcement notes.

Looking ahead, the EU member states will now move towards implementing the guidelines, and they have until the end of April 2020 to take the first steps towards doing so. The member states will then prepare and submit a joint report about their implementations by the end of June 2020.

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Comments (7)

7 responses to “EU Recommends Limiting Huawei, Not Banning It”

  1. red.radar

    Correct me if I am wrong... but the EUs original position was “we see no issue and we are not limiting Huawei. “ They were confident in their security standards and test certification processes they had in place.

    this seems like a coarse update or softening of the original stance. Now they are saying ... let’s not go all in and let’s limit Huawei.

    to me this isn’t a rebuke of the US recommendation but rather an acknowledgment. It’s deeply political so messaging is easy to distort for your own personal biases. However I see this as a change from previous positions

    • wright_is

      In reply to red.radar:

      Not quite. They had reviewed the code, there was no backdoor/national security angle, but they were concerned about the quality of the code and general security (poorly coded, with possible buffer overflows etc.).

      They didn't reject them outright, but they were under review, pending a final decision. So more of a "we aren't finished looking at them yet, so on your head be it."

      The "high-risk" vendor bit is new language in the UK/EU policies. Possibly as an appeasement to the USA.

  2. m_p_w_84

    I think Huawei should have been told by international agreement to move their company entirely out of China to remove all possible Chinese influence or be black listed, and should be made to disclose their spending on product security and quality testing.