FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters ahead of an EU leaders summit at the European Council headquarters, in Brussels, Belgium July 16, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU countries must take urgent action to diversify their 5G suppliers, the European Commission said on Friday, amid U.S. pressure on the bloc to follow Britain and ban China’s Huawei [HWT.UL] from 5G networks.
In November last year, the EU agreed to take a tough line on 5G suppliers to reduce cybersecurity risks to next-generation mobile networks, seen as key to boosting economic growth and competitiveness.
The strategy included reducing countries’ and telecoms operators’ dependency on one supplier. World No. 1 telecoms equipment maker Huawei competes with Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson.
“Progress is urgently needed to mitigate the risk of dependency on high-risk suppliers, also with a view to reducing dependencies at (European) Union level,” the EU executive said, reporting on the progress made by the 27 EU countries.
“Challenges have been identified in designing and imposing appropriate multi-vendor strategies for individual MNOs (mobile network operator) or at national level due to technical or operational difficulties,” it said, citing the lack of interoperability or the size of the country as some of the problems.
The Commission also urged 13 EU countries to adopt the foreign direct investments screening mechanism without delay, a tool which allows EU governments to intervene in cases of foreign direct investment in strategic assets, especially if state-controlled or state-financed enterprises are involved.
Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Mark Potter