German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Europe needs to adopt a common approach to 5G security, arguing that adopting mixed policies towards Huawei would damage both the EU and China.
The US has blacklisted Huawei in the US on national security grounds and Washington is urging its allies to follow suit. However the US has not produced any evidence to support its claims and Huawei has frequently and emphatically denied any wrongdoing.
Last month, German communications regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) published new security guidelines that made no specific provisions for any particular company but instead placed additional requirements for all manufacturers.
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The guidelines state that vendors must be trustworthy, critical components must be certified, security monitoring must be introduced and that only trained professionals are to be employed in security related areas. There are also provisions for redundancy and a call for operators to avoid monocultures, presumably by musing kit from multiple vendors.
Some German politicians have called for Huawei to be excluded, but this would be met by resistance among operators in the country. All are Huawei customers and fear that innovation would decrease and costs would rise in the event of a ban. This, they have told Berlin, would lead to a delay in the rollout of 5G.
Speaking in the German parliament, Merkel said she wanted security standards to determine whether a vendor could be trusted rather than singling out any firm in particular. She urged her European counterparts to come together and establish a unified front.
This would inevitably require the cooperation of France. However it appears as though French President Emmanuel Macron would be receptive. He has said his government would never act with prejudice against an individual company or country, while ministers have said they will not follow the US lead. Instead, Paris will reserve the right to examine any potential supplier to see if they are a security threat.
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