EU continues research with Huawei, Italy remains loyal, Germany considers

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All is not lost in Europe for the world’s biggest telecoms equipment provider.

The European Union and China will continue to work on their 5G-Drive collaboration project according to the European coordinator of the 5G-Drive project, Uwe Herzog,

He was quoted saying, “The basis for our collaboration is the research collaboration framework agreed between the EU and China, which continues to be valid and honoured by both sides.

“Thus, we are not concerned that the 5G-Drive project and its research collaboration with its Chinese twin project will be affected by current political discussions on 5G deployment.”

The agreement for the project was signed in 2015 and is an element of the EU’s Horizon 2020 initiative, in which it is investing €80 billion. The rationale is to ensure that European and Chinese 5G networks are interoperable. public-private partnership launched by the EU.

The EU pledged €700 million in the 5G-Drive project, with the intention of raising €3 billion more from industry.

Italy stays loyal

The Italian government has refuted claims that it will ban tech giant Huawei and ZTE from having a role in its development of the 5G mobile network.

Last week the newspaper La Stampa, reported the Italian government could use special powers to end contracts with Huawei, but the next day a government statement said, the government had no intention of such taking such measures.

The statement continued, “National security is a priority and if any critical issues emerged - which to date have not – the ministry would assess whether or not to take measures”.

Germany considers

Although the German government was expected to issue a statement last week regarding the use of Huawei equipment in 5G infrastructure, nothing materialised.

This article in the Nikkei Asia Review offers a terrific summary of how mired in politics the issue has become, and the various pressures being applied by a number of powerful forces on the German government.

Purely from a telecoms point of view, though, two issues stand out. The first is, as the article states, “Berlin still remembers that it was the US, not China, that used networks provided by…Cisco to spy on Germany”.

The second that Chancellor Merkel’s government has been heavily criticised for the slow progress of the country’s communications infrastructure. German telcos have warned that a ban on Huawei could delay 5G’s progress by up to three years.