EU presents plan for safe 5G amid Huawei suspicions

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The European Commission on Tuesday presented its plan to ensure the secure introduction of 5G telecoms networks, with suspicions hanging over Chinese giant Huawei.

The United States has accused the firm of posing a security risk to western networks, because of its alleged ties to Chinese intelligence.

But some European countries are in negotiations with Huawei to deploy its advanced technology to power the faster wireless networks of the future.

The Commission did not call on European countries to follow the example of the US, Australia or Japan in banning deals with the firm, but it will determine the extent of the risk and encourage EU members to share information.

Andrus Ansip, vice president of the commission in charge of the digital single market, said: “5G technology will transform our economy and society and open massive opportunities for people and businesses.

“But we cannot accept this happening without full security built in. It is therefore essential that 5G infrastructures in the EU are resilient and fully secure from technical or legal back doors.”

The plan, unveiled at a news conference at the EU parliament in Strasbourg, calls for member states to report back on any security threats to their national network infrastructure by June 30.

After that, the European Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) will be given to October 1 to produce a report evaluating the risks at a European level.

Then member states will debate what if any measures to take, with a decision before the end of the year.

Fifth Generation telecoms, which provide almost instantaneous data transfer, will become the nervous system of Europe’s economy in the coming years, including strategic sectors like energy, transport, banking and health care.

Huawei has become a world leader in the technology, and Europe’s deployment of the network could lag behind if it shuns Chinese suppliers.

But Chinese law obliges telecoms firms to cooperate with its intelligence services, and some Western capitals are wary that Huawei networks may give Beijing access to commercial, military, scientific and diplomatic secrets.

China furiously denies this, but Washington has banned Huawei’s 5G technology from its territory and has urged its allies to follow suit or face losing some of their own access to American intelligence.

The European Commission’s statement came just as China’s President Xi Jinping met his French, German and EU counterparts in Paris.

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