Telecoms: European Commission will no longer use equipment from Chinese Huawei and ZTE

The European Commission will no longer use and allow its officials to use telecoms equipment from Chinese suppliers Huawei and ZTE. Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton is also calling on the 27 to imitate him.

The European Commission and its officials will no longer use the services of China's Huawei and ZTE. © ERIC GAILLARD / REUTERS

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The decision comes as no surprise. As early as 2020, the executive body of the European Union called on member states to secure their networks, especially 5G. Frenchman Thierry Breton has become the figurehead of this fight. He wants, he says, to avoid a dependency that could eventually become "a weapon against our interests". He wants to believe that Europeans have learned the lessons of the war in Ukraine.

The recommendations were made three years ago, partly under pressure from the United States, which has already banned the supply of 5G equipment to several Chinese companies, including Huawei and ZTE. But this European "toolbox" remains non-binding and barely a third of European countries have followed Brussels' recommendations. Thierry Breton wants to set an example. "The Commission will apply these principles for its own telephone service needs: we must avoid the risks posed by Huawei and ZTE. We will also take these principles into account when allocating EU funding," he said.

A surprising appeal

A few days ago, the Financial Times recently reported on an incident that occurred in December 2020 and that may have convinced Thierry Breton of the threat. The European Commissioner had just spoken with a Huawei executive, the Chinese group was trying to convince Europeans that it was not spying on behalf of Beijing. Only, less than a week later, Thierry Breton has the unpleasant surprise of receiving on his personal phone the euphoric call of the Huawei lobbyist who arranged the interview. The man was obviously mistaken, except that... Neither he nor the company was supposed to know this number.

► Read also: United States: sale prohibited for new Chinese telecom equipment

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  • European Union
  • Telecom
  • China