A progress report on the adoption of European Commission’s (EC) delayed 5G measures highlights the continent’s fragmented digital market.
Despite the measures laid out by EC in the form of a European Union Toolbox for 5G Security, as yet 13 member states are to mandate mechanisms for screening foreign direct investment regarding 5G and supply chains.
So much for a common approach to security across the EU, including safeguards against perceived threats from Chinese equipment suppliers.
While many countries are averse to bullying by the American government regarding which vendors can be included in national infrastructure, the Chinese administration has played into its hands by becoming increasingly aggressive on a number of fronts, from Hong Kong to adopting a “Wolf Warrior” approach to diplomacy.
This certainly had a bearing on the UK’s reversal of policy when the government mandated the phasing out of all Huawei equipment from 5G networks over the next seven years and it looks like the same might be happening in France.
The Dutch meanwhile are continuing to rely heavily on Huawei in their networks and a political row regarding Deutsche Telekom’s reliance on the Chinese giant and the leaked intricacies of that relationship looks inevitable, especially given its hugely ambitious roll out plans. The German government has said it will decide in the autumn, leaving DT in limbo.
As The Economist points out, by design through encouraging so many competitors in each country, regardless of its size, “The EU has failed to create a single digital market; an operator in Poland cannot sell services to a customer in Sweden in the same way New York-based Verizon sells to Californians. So where China and America have three network operators each, Europe has more than 100.
“In some markets, such as Belgium, Germany and Poland, the local companies are highly reliant on Huawei; companies in Finland, Ireland and Spain would face much lower costs if forced to make the switch.”
The Commission’s EVP for Europe Fit for the Digital Age and Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, commented, “Our common priority and responsibility is to ensure that these networks are secure and, while this report shows we have undergone great strides, a lot of work remains ahead.”