Thierry Breton during a visit to Lisbon Image: Lusa

Brussels reaffirms support of Portugal’s decision to exclude Huawei from 5G

“There are risks that cannot be borne during 5G deployment”

In the wake of news that Chinese company Huawei is appealing against Portugal’s decision to exclude its technology from developing 5G networks, the European Commission has re-affirmed its total support for the decision.

Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton said yesterday that it is up to European Union (EU) member states to decide which manufacturers to exclude from the development of fifth generation mobile networks (5G), supporting the position of Portugal and recognising “some problems” with Huawei, writes Lusa.

“From day one, when we put in place the so-called toolbox on 5G, we obviously didn’t mention any company, but we did mention the risk that any country must avoid when selecting or having its companies select suppliers”, he told journalists at a meeting with the European press.

When asked specifically about the announcement that Chinese manufacturer Huawei has filed an appeal against the Portuguese Security Assessment Board’s deliberation on 5G equipment, with the aim of safeguarding what it calls its legal rights, Breton said: “I think that if the Portuguese authorities are complying with the rules, they should take this decision.

“It’s not up to me to say whether it applies to one company or another, but it is up to me to make sure that the 27 countries agree on the risks that cannot be borne during the deployment of 5G networks.” 

According to Thierry Breton, “the way these networks are developed is not the same” depending on the suppliers taking part.

“Huawei – as you mentioned – has some pieces of equipment that don’t have any problems, but others may have some problems and it’s up to the member States to decide and (…) to fulfil the commitment that everyone has made to respect the toolbox,” he said in response to questions put by Lusa news agency.

This position comes two days after Huawei confirmed that it has “filed an appeal with the Administrative Court of Lisbon against Resolution 1/2023 and related documents concerning 5G equipment issued by the Security Assessment Commission.” 

Last May, the Security Assessment Commission, as part of the High Council for Cyberspace Security, issued a resolution on the “high risk” to the security of 5G networks and services of using equipment from suppliers that, among other criteria, are from outside the EU, NATO or OECD and that “the legal system of the country in which it is domiciled” or connected “allows the government to exercise control, interference or pressure over its activities operating in third countries.

“The resolution didn’t name any companies or countries, but the case of Huawei does come to mind, particularly because the Chinese technology company has been banned from 5G networks in other European countries”, explains Lusa.

Earlier, in January 2020, the European Commission advised EU member States to apply “relevant restrictions” to suppliers considered “high risk” in 5G networks, including exclusion from their markets to avoid “critical” risks.

This was a toolbox released with recommendations for member States to implement to mitigate possible cyberattacks, espionage actions and/ or other problems related to the development of this technology.

Europe is Huawei’s biggest market outside of China.

Assumed to be a European priority, the commitment to 5G has also given rise to cybersecurity concerns, with Huawei being at the centre of controversy over alleged espionage in 5G equipment, which the technology company has rejected, reiterating the lack of evidence.

Source material: LUSA