Europe

EU Official Downplays 5G Delay Over Security Concerns

European industrial policy chief Thierry Breton said Sunday that he didn't agree with claims that waiting on European companies to install a 5G network would delay the rollout of the new technology.

The statement, made at the DLD conference in Munich on Sunday, is just more fuel to the fire in the debate in Germany over the role of China’s Huawei going forward.

Breton, who is a former French finance minister, said 5G, which will be used to implement more smart cities and cars and artificial intelligence, will require more strict security than previous rollouts of new technologies.

He said with confidence that setting up that security wouldn’t have to compromise or delay the implementation of 5G, and that Europe and Germany were “on track.”

That’s a contrast from the words earlier in the week from German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who said excluding Chinese companies would set back the development of 5G by as much as five to 10 years.

German officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and Social Democrats, are divided over the question of how to approach the matter, with the Democrats pushing a proposal to effectively shut Huawei out of talks and development and the conservatives divided on whether to support that.

Merkel’s government is under pressure from the U.S., which says Huawei would be able to gain “back doors” to spy on other countries if Germany uses their gear.

Breton doesn’t want to necessarily bar Huawei permanently, he said. But he wants to favor more European providers like Nokia when working on the 5G tech. His words were reminiscent of those of French President Emmanuel Macron, who said he wants to make sure Europe isn’t too reliant on China, as that could lead to strategic weaknesses in the future.

Recently, Germany finished a 6.5 billion Euro auction to develop 5G technology, and Huawei and other companies will bid for future deals.

Huawei said last year that they’re confident they can meet Germany’s security requirements.

But other companies like AT&T and Nokia are launching new projects in the country, too.

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