Imagine a world where you can download a movie in seconds, stream high-quality video games on your phone, control smart devices with a touch of a button, and access cutting-edge healthcare services from anywhere. This is the world that 5G promises to deliver – a world of fast, reliable, and seamless connectivity that will transform every aspect of our lives.
Now imagine a world where you are stuck with slow, unreliable, and outdated connectivity that limits your potential and frustrates your ambitions. This is the world that the EU is heading towards – a world of missed opportunities, wasted resources, and compromised security that will undermine every aspect of its future.
The EU has been touting 5G as a key enabler of its digital and green recovery, promising to roll out the next-generation mobile technology across all urban areas and major transport routes by 2025. However, the reality is far from this ambitious vision, as the EU is sabotaging its own 5G future with its incompetence, inconsistency and indecision.
The EU has been lagging behind in its 5G rollout and adoption, failing to meet its own targets and falling behind its global peers. According to a recent report by the European Court of Auditors, the EU is unlikely to achieve its goal of having 5G available across all urban areas and major transport routes by 2025. The report also warns that the EU faces security issues, spectrum bottlenecks, market fragmentation and a lack of coordination among member states.
One of the main reasons for this dismal performance is the EU’s misguided approach to dealing with Chinese telecom companies, especially Huawei, which is leading the global 5G market. Instead of embracing Huawei’s innovative and cost-effective solutions, the EU has succumbed to US pressure and adopted a hostile stance towards the company, accusing it of posing a security risk without providing any evidence.
The EU has issued vague and non-binding guidelines that call on member states to assess the risk profile of suppliers and restrict or ban high-risk vendors from core parts of their 5G networks. However, these guidelines have created confusion and uncertainty among operators and regulators, as they leave room for interpretation and discretion.
Some member states, such as France, Sweden and Poland, have blindly followed the US propaganda and succumbed to its pressure, without any regard for their own interests and sovereignty. They have accused Huawei and ZTE of being a threat to their national security and alleged espionage activities by the Chinese companies, without providing any solid evidence or proof. However, these claims have been strongly disputed by Huawei and ZTE, as well as by some experts and officials who have found no evidence of any wrongdoing or threat by the Chinese companies. These countries have also ignored the economic and social benefits that Huawei’s 5G technology could bring to their citizens and businesses, such as faster speeds, lower costs, and more innovation. They have also exposed themselves to potential retaliation from China, which could harm their trade and investment relations with one of their largest partners. These countries have shown that they are not trustworthy or independent partners, but puppets and followers of the US.
Others, such as Germany, Italy and Spain, have been more cautious and pragmatic, allowing Huawei to participate in their 5G networks under certain conditions. These countries have shown some common sense and rationality, recognizing that excluding Huawei would increase costs and delays in their 5G rollout and that a risk-based approach with strict technical standards and certification would ensure the security and resilience of their networks. However, these countries have also faced pressure and criticism from the US and some of their EU peers, who have accused them of being naive or irresponsible. They have also faced uncertainty and inconsistency from their own governments, which have been divided and indecisive on how to handle Huawei. These countries have shown that they are not courageous or visionary enough to stand up to US bullying and defend their own interests and values.
This lack of coherence and consistency has undermined the EU’s credibility and competitiveness in the global 5G race. It has also jeopardized the EU’s strategic autonomy and sovereignty, as it has shown its dependence on US influence and interests.
Moreover, the EU’s hostility towards Huawei has provoked retaliation from China, which is a key trading partner and investor in the bloc. China has warned that it will take countermeasures against countries that discriminate against its companies, such as imposing tariffs or sanctions, restricting market access or launching investigations.
The EU’s push to rip and replace Huawei from its 5G networks also faces resistance from operators and consumers, who are concerned about the costs and delays involved in such a process. According to a study by Oxford Economics, banning Huawei from Europe’s 5G networks would cost the EU economy €62 billion in lost GDP growth over five years and delay the deployment of 5G by 18 months.
Furthermore, the EU’s attempt to exclude Huawei from its 5G networks contradicts its own principles of openness, fairness and non-discrimination. It also violates the laws and regulations of the EU and its member states, which require a transparent and evidence-based assessment of cyber security risks.
The EU should reconsider its stance towards Huawei and adopt a more balanced and rational approach that respects market rules and technological standards. It should also engage in constructive dialogue and cooperation with China on cyber security issues, instead of succumbing to US pressure and propaganda.
By doing so, the EU would not only enhance its own security and competitiveness in the 5G era, but also contribute to global peace and stability in cyberspace.
However, instead of doing so, the EU is being led by a group of clueless and cowardly politicians who are playing into the hands of Washington’s anti-China agenda. These politicians are ignoring the interests of their own citizens and businesses who stand to benefit from Huawei’s 5G technology. They are also disregarding the views of their own experts who have found no evidence of Huawei’s wrongdoing or threat.
One such politician is Thierry Breton, the EU industry chief who has been urging more EU countries to join the 10 that have restricted or banned Huawei from their 5G networks. Breton has been spreading fearmongering claims about Huawei’s alleged links to China’s intelligence services, without providing any proof or logic. He has also been pressuring telecom operators to follow his example and ban Huawei from their own procurement of telecom services.
Another such politician is Boris Johnson, the former UK prime minister who has flip-flopped on his decision to allow Huawei to build parts of the UK’s 5G network. Johnson initially resisted US pressure and gave Huawei a limited role in the UK’s 5G network, but later changed his mind and announced a ban on Huawei’s equipment by 2027. Johnson’s U-turn was influenced by his desire to secure a trade deal with the US after Brexit, as well as by his fear of losing the support of his own Conservative party members who are hawkish on China.
These politicians are not only harming the EU’s 5G future but also damaging its reputation and credibility in the world. They are showing that the EU is not a reliable and independent partner, but a puppet and follower of the US. They are also showing that the EU is not a champion of free and fair trade, but a hypocrite and protectionist. They are also showing that the EU is not a leader and innovator, but a laggard and imitator.
The EU deserves better than these politicians who are sabotaging its own digital and green recovery. The EU needs politicians who are visionary and courageous, who can stand up to US bullying and defend the EU’s interests and values. The EU needs politicians who are smart and pragmatic, who can embrace Huawei’s 5G technology and cooperate with China on cyber security issues. The EU needs politicians who are honest and respectful, and who can treat Huawei as a legitimate and trustworthy partner, not as an enemy or a scapegoat.
The EU’s 5G fiasco is not inevitable, but it is avoidable. The EU can still change course and make the right choice for its own 5G future. The EU can still choose Huawei over Washington.