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EU supports Huawei use in 5G networks in defiance of US

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But calls for restrictions on high-risk suppliers

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The European Union has issued a set of guidelines on the use of high-risk vendors like Huawei for building the single market’s 5G networks. Although individual member states will have ultimate control over which equipment they allow in their 5G infrastructure, the European commission has created a “toolbox” of security measures, which it hopes will allow countries across the bloc to coordinate their approaches.

Although the commission’s guidelines don’t mention it directly, Huawei is the vendor that’s been causing the most concern internationally, with the US arguing in favor of a total ban of the Chinese company’s involvement in 5G infrastructure. Yesterday, the UK decided to allow high-risk vendors such as Huawei in its 5G networks, albeit with restrictions.

The EU’s guidelines mirror many elements of the UK’s decision. They call for an assessment of the risks posed by different suppliers, and for limiting the role of high-risk vendors in critical parts of the infrastructure, such as vulnerable core networks. The guidelines also note that a diversity of vendors is important, which the UK has attempted to achieve by limiting the use of high-risk vendor equipment to no more than 35 percent of the network.

The decision goes against the US’s recent lobbying efforts. A senior Trump administration official called yesterday’s UK decision to allow the use of Huawei’s equipment “disappointing,” in comments given to the Financial Times. Meanwhile, Huawei welcomed the EU’s guidelines, which it said allowed for a “non-biased and fact-based approach towards 5G security.”