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A group of prominent members of the European Parliament have named Chinese 5G suppliers Huawei and ZTE as “high-risk” companies that pose a threat to network security in Europe, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO.
Members of five political groups called on national capitals and the Commission to cut European public funding for the two companies in the letter, which was sent to national telecommunications ministers and senior European Commission officials. Telecommunications ministers meet on Thursday for an informal video conference.
“Like all Chinese companies, [Huawei and its smaller Chinese rival ZTE] are required under Chinese law to comply with China’s authoritarian, undemocratic regime. This includes using networks to control one’s own population and to spy on [on] Western governments, businesses and citizens, ”the MPs wrote.
“So there is no doubt that Huawei and ZTE are ‘high risk’ vendors, whose technology in European 5G networks would pose a security threat,” they added.
Huawei has always denied claims that it posed a security risk and rebuffed the idea that governments designated it as a “high-risk” supplier under the EU’s new 5G security rules.
“We have to be careful when we label suppliers based on the location of their headquarters. Some companies may be headquartered in Europe, but have their major decision-making center, supply chains, and research and development facilities in other parts of the world, such as the United States or China. This includes two of our main 5G peers, ”said a Huawei spokesperson, referring to Swedish supplier Ericsson and Finnish company Nokia.
“Chinese law applies not only to Huawei, but also and equally to all companies that have significant operations in China,” the spokesperson added.
“5G security must be promoted by guaranteeing technically sound security solutions, excluding suppliers belonging to the ‘high risk’ category of sensitive parts of the networks” – A letter from MEPs
The letter was signed by more than 40 Members of the European Parliament, including former Vice President of the European Commission Andrus Ansip (Renew), Head of Chinese Parliament delegation Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens) and other prominent members of the center-right conservative party, liberal, social-democratic and green factions.
The signatories called for a review of European and national public funding to ensure that “no European funding, i.e. taxpayer money, will cover the use of technology from equipment suppliers. high-risk telecommunications “, including in key EU investment programs as part of the bloc’s long-term budget and coronavirus pandemic recovery fund.
Huawei has engaged in projects jointly with European companies that receive European funding for innovation. However, the company stated in its listing in the EU Transparency Register that it did not receive EU funding in the last closed fiscal year.
Members also criticized China’s inability to open up its domestic telecommunications market to European providers Ericsson and Nokia, saying “there is also a glaring lack of reciprocity between the EU and China in market access. from 5G suppliers “.
They said the EU should agree on a draft international procurement instrument that would close public contracts for companies from third countries that restrict market access for European companies.
Members also called on national capitals to conduct a “joint assessment and categorization of” high risk “suppliers, which would mean countries must agree on a common label for Huawei and ZTE suppliers.
The Commission this year launched a “toolkit” urging countries to reduce their dependence on the Chinese kit for 5G networks, in particular by preventing “high-risk suppliers” from supplying equipment to sensitive parts of the networks. new generation telecommunications networks.
“5G security must be promoted by guaranteeing technically sound security solutions, by excluding suppliers belonging to the ‘high risk’ category from sensitive parts of networks and, in the medium and long term, by maintaining the know-how and European capabilities in order to avoid over-reliance or dependence on ‘high-risk’ suppliers, ”MEPs wrote.
But Huawei has pushed back restrictions on its market access. “There would be serious negative consequences for the interests of consumers and businesses, and for the cohesion of the internal market if the elimination of certain suppliers becomes law,” said the spokesperson for the company.
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