(Reuters) – The European Union is considering proposals that would effectively constitute a genuine ban on Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. equipment for next generation mobile networks, says four leading EU officials and contributes to increased international pressure on the world's largest manufacturer of telecom equipment.
While efforts by EU executives are still in the very first stages and may be complicated to implement, the move shows a shift in the EU's position among the increasing security problems in the west of China.
An endeavor to exclude Chinese companies such as Huawei would probably be welcomed by the United States, which has tried to prevent US companies from buying Huawei infrastructure equipment and have pressured allies to do the same. US security experts are concerned that the tool could be used by the Chinese government for espionage ̵
According to the four leading EU officials, one of the Commission's options is to change a 2016 cyber security law that requires companies involved in critical infrastructure to take appropriate security measures.
By changing the definition of critical infrastructure to also include so-called fifth generation mobile networks, the law would effectively prevent EU companies from using such equipment provided by any country or company suspected of using their equipment for espionage or sabotage, officials said. .
Other changes may also be required or made, for example, changes in the procurement rules, the officials added.
Officials stressed that no change was about a company alone and was prompted by wider national security concerns for China.
A Huawei spokesman said tha "Huawei is open and committed to working with European institutions to develop a security standard for Europe" and added that the company's opening of a new cyber security center in Brussels in March underscores its commitment to Europe.
"Huawei has a clean record of cyber security," said the spokesman. Huawei has denied allegations of espionage and sabotage.
The Chinese government denies any intention to spy on the West and has condemned a ban on Chinese 5G suppliers in the US and Australia as unfounded.
China's Ambassador to the EU, Zhang Ming took a similar message to a private meeting of the Commission with EU technical commissioner Andrus Ansip on January 29, claiming that Huawei would not be blocked from 5G auctions in Europe, one of the four said officials.
China's mission to the EU could not immediately be reached for comment.
The harder setting reflects growing security issues in the West of Huawei. Some Western countries, including the United States and Australia, have limited Huawei's access to the next-generation mobile network and Germany is considering doing so.
European telecom companies are preparing for the 5G technology which promises to connect everything from vehicles to factories at much higher speeds. If such measures were introduced by the EU, it could be a setback for European efforts to stay competitive at 5G, as it would likely lead to delays and additional costs for network building.
Deutsche Telekom AG, Europe's largest telecom operator On Wednesday, a number of measures were proposed to ensure that Chinese suppliers could participate in building Germany's 5G mobile network without jeopardizing national security.
According to an internal Commission document reviewed by Reuters, the EU change has been subject to changes in Chinese intelligence and security laws in recent years. In an example mentioned in the Commission document, China's national intelligence law states that Chinese "organizations and citizens should support, cooperate with, and cooperate in national inquiry" in accordance with the law. "
It has caused fear that Chinese companies such as Huawei could be urged by the Chinese government to incorporate" backdoors "into their equipment that would allow Beijing access to espionage or sabotage, said EU officials.
The Commission concluded that there was no need to prove that China was actually spying before a policy change was made, according to the document.
Changing EU legislation is not straightforward and such an amendment would have to gain approval from the EU capitals. It could be a year or more before a law change was made.
It may also mean the US-led NATO military alliance through coordination with the EU to protect 5G networks, although the discussions are at a very preliminary stage, the EU said. officials and two NATO diplomats.
Nevertheless, the Commission hopes that the change process would get a chill if effect on companies run by European countries with Chinese telecom equipment manufacturers, according to one of the EU officials.
The four EU officials say an alarm clock was Poland's arrest of a Chinese employee of Huawei and a former Polish security officer on spying claims earlier this month, which Huawei denies.
Warsaw is in close contact with the Commission in Brussels and runs the EU to use legislation to exclude companies like Huawei, according to a leading Polish government source.
China's Premiere Li Keqiang is also expected to object to any EU ban on Chinese equipment with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Council Donald Tusk at an annual summit in Brussels, held until April 9 at Beijing the request, officials said. EU-China summits usually take place in July.
But the EU has also insisted that Premier Li meet Mr Juncker and Mr Tusk in Brussels before meeting Central and Eastern European leaders at a separate summit later in April. The format of 16 EU countries and non-EU states is unpopular in Brussels, which it sees as an attempt to divide the European Union.