Europe embraces 5G

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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Huawei now regards itself very much part of the fabric of the European economy. [Melinda Nagy]

The European Commission’s cybersecurity recommendations for 5G and the Joint Declaration from the EU-China Summit point the way forward for ICT companies like Huawei.

Hui Cao is Head of Strategy & Policy at Huawei’s EU Public Affairs and Communication Office.

Two developments over the past few weeks have provided much-awaited direction in Europe, and on the global stage, regarding the provision of an open and secure ICT environment.

First, the European Commission published its security recommendations for 5G, the next generation of mobile communications networks and technologies. 5G will be rolling out everywhere over the next decade.

The Commission’s recommendations are a combination of legislative and policy instruments meant to protect European economies, societies and democratic systems from future cybersecurity risks. It wants every EU Member State to complete a national risk assessment of 5G network infrastructure by the end of June this year. The information derived from these national assessments is to be shared with other EU states, the Commission and ENISA (the European Agency for Cybersecurity), with the latter completing a “5G threat landscape” to support countries in delivering coordinated risk assessments by 1 October 2019. These coordinated assessments will guide possible further steps at EU level towards the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, the Cybersecurity Act recently approved by the European Parliament will enter into force in the coming weeks. The Commission and ENISA will then set up the EU-wide certification framework for digital products, processes and services foreseen in the Act. This will include dedicated EU-wide certification schemes related to 5G. Huawei, recognized by the Commission as the world’s leading 5G equipment vendor and the standard-setter in 5G, is a leading stakeholder in this respect. Since we are keen to certify our products to the highest cybersecurity standards, we aim to contribute our experience to this process.

As Abraham Liu, Huawei’s Chief Representative to the European Institutions pointed out on 26 March, when the recommendations were published: “Huawei welcomes the objective and proportionate approach of the European Commission’s recommendations on 5G security. Huawei understands the cybersecurity concerns that European regulators have. Based on mutual understanding, Huawei looks forward to contributing to the European framework on cybersecurity. We are firmly committed to continuing working with all regulators and partners to make the 5G rollout in Europe a success.”

Transparency in cybersecurity

Evidence of our collaborative approach can also be found in the opening of the Huawei Cyber Security Transparency Centre in Brussels at the beginning of March. The centre, located at 9 Rue Guimard, offers government agencies, technical experts, industry associations, and standards organisations a platform, where they can communicate and collaborate to balance out security and development in the digital era. It also showcases Huawei’s end-to-end cybersecurity practices, from strategies and supply chain to R&D and products and solutions, and facilitates communication between Huawei and key stakeholders on cybersecurity strategies for 5G as well as end-to-end cyber security and privacy protection practices, very much in the spirit of the European Commission’s new 5G security recommendations.

The second welcome development came with the Joint Statement from the EU-China Summit held in Brussels on 9 April, when the two sides “agreed to continue to strengthen their exchanges and cooperation under the EU-China Cyber Taskforce aimed at upholding an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful information and communications technology (ICT) environment.”

The EU and China are to strengthen their cooperation against malicious activities in cyberspace through the EU-China Cyber Taskforce, including by protecting intellectual property, and have also agreed to further exchanges on 5G based on their 2015 5G Joint Declaration, including on technological cooperation between EU and Chinese business communities, and continued cooperation in innovation, science and technology.

Huawei, an international and European company

Huawei is an international company, operating in 170 countries and privately owned by its employees. Its headquarters are in Shenzhen, China, but as we have repeatedly pointed out, Huawei is independent of the Chinese state and beholden only to the laws of the countries in which it is operating. That said, Huawei wants to see strong and positive EU-China dialogue in many areas, including ICT and cyber security cooperation. It is in the interests of the world.

Huawei has been in Europe for nearly 20 years when we opened our first R&D centre in Sweden. Now we have 23 R&D centres in 14 European countries. We employ over 12 200 staff in Europe, nearly 2 400 of them working in research and development. We cooperate with over 140 universities and research institutes and are an active player in the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme. We have signed 210 technology partnership agreements and have important strategic alliances with many European companies.

So, Huawei now regards itself very much part of the fabric of the European economy, and as a result, we regard the Commission’s 5G security recommendations and the Joint Declaration of the EU-China Summit to be very important statements of intent which provide clear direction, a much-needed political roadmap to follow.

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