The US government’s sanctions on Chinese tech firms, including telecommunications giant Huawei, have seen it attempt to stop the company’s spread of technology into the United States. However, the EU had no such qualms, considering the extensive use of Huawei’s affordable tech to roll out 5G networks across member states. After the latest round of American lobbying, however, the EU has reconsidered its position on Huawei.
Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place
The EU is in the middle of a trade war, and even though it doesn’t have to take sides, pleasing both parties can be challenging. The US is a significant security ally of the EU, which, as a member of NATO, has access to American technology and surveillance. China, on the other hand, is one of the largest markets that do business with the EU. Alienating either one could lead to dire consequences for the region’s security or commerce. At the recent NATO summit, the US advised the EU to rethink its position on Huawei, suggesting that ‘untrusted providers’ should be excluded from infrastructure installations. Germany’s largest phone carrier Deutsche Telekom AG has already ceased doing business with Huawei because of their uncertain status internationally.
For the Benefit of the EU First
The EU’s change in position doesn’t completely exclude Huawei from participating in the European market. Currently, only member states under the EU have the right to institute a ban on vendors, and none have moved to take that step with Huawei as yet. However, member states are likely to agree to recommendations for exclusion before the end of the year. These proposals include flagging untrustworthy vendors. Despite no bans coming out of discussions, the US sees the reconsideration as a substantial victory in the trade war. Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK, mentioned that he didn’t want the country to be hostile to international business interests, but did note that it was vital to secure the country’s national security. Huawei praised the EU’s “fact-based” approach to determining what companies they would do business with, reiterating that their 5G solution was both innovative and secure.