A 24-page restricted circulation European Commission report proposing new regulatory measures against overreliance on a single telecoms supplier by European Union member nations may threaten Huawei’s plans to turn 5G into its major niche in European markets, Bloomberg has reported, citing the document.
According to the business news outlet, the EC report, to see limited release later Wednesday, doesn’t name China or Huawei directly, but proposes a balanced approach to 5G telecoms infrastructure, and, reportedly, points to a potential threat from “non-democratic countries that could exert pressure and poses a risk of spying.”
“Hostile third countries may exercise pressure on 5G suppliers in order to facilitate cyberattacks serving their national interests,” an excerpt from the report cited by Bloomberg reads.
“EU-based operators who become overly dependent on a single equipment supplier are exposed to a number of risks caused by that supplier coming under sustained commercial pressure, whether due to commercial failure, being subject to a merger or acquisition, or being placed under sanctions,” another excerpt reads.
Pointing to the planned future use of 5G technology, which includes an ‘Internet of Things’ approach to connect everything from home appliances to electricity grids and police communications networks, the document reportedly warns that the next generation of wireless internet will “increase the number of attack paths that could be exploited by threat actors, in particular non-EU states or state-backed actors.”
Based on these threats, the report recommends a revision to EU member states’ approaches to 5G technology, calling for improved security to combat potential espionage and attempts by criminal groups to infect networks with malware and to carry out denial of service attacks.
'Politicised' Pressure Campaign
Although it has seen only a limited presence in US markets, Huawei has grown over the past decade to become one of the world’s largest technology companies, selling billions of dollars’ worth of smartphones and telecommunications equipment. The US Department of Commerce placed the company on its entity list in May, restricting the ability of US tech firms to do business with Huawei, but has since granted two 90-day extensions after major US tech entities warned that they stood to lose billions of dollars if restrictions weren’t lifted.
In addition to blacklisting the company in the US, Washington has launched a pressure campaign against its European allies to convince them to back out of contracts with Huawei on the creation of 5G infrastructure, accusing the Chinese company of placing hidden tools which would enable the Chinese state to spy on users. In late August, Poland announced that it would sign a 5G agreement with Washington, with a major French telecoms provider announcing last month that it would choose Nokia instead of Huawei for its 5G rollout. However, other European companies and nations have resisted the pressure, and Huawei remains confident that 5G can become its major business in Europe in the coming years.
Huawei has repeatedly denied that any of its technology was designed to be used for spying. Last month, Huawei promised to do what it takes to reassure foreign governments that its technology was secure, including sharing source code.
Huawei has reported striking deals on more than 50 major commercial 5G contracts around the world despite being blocked from some big markets, including Japan and Australia, and has accused the US of engaging in “the politicization of economic and trade issues” with its anti-Huawei pressure campaign as part of the broader multitrillion dollar China-US trade war.