The European Commission is planning to ban equipment from Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE from its own internal telecommunications networks, people familiar with the matter said.
The move comes ahead of an anticipated review of the European Union’s guidance on fifth generation mobile networks that will increase pressure on bloc members to phase out equipment from the companies, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plan isn’t yet public.
In the EU’s updated guidance in the 5G “toolbox,” the commission will tell members that excluding Huawei and ZTE from national networks is justified and will for the first-time name them, the people said.
The move comes as the EU faces increasing pressure from Washington to take a harder line on China. The US has attempted to hinder Chinese access to technologies including artificial intelligence, semiconductors and quantum computing as tensions over Taiwan escalate.
In response, the EU is ramping up its rhetoric against Chinese influence. While it can’t force member states to act — security issues are handled at the country level — it shows how the group is aligning itself more closely with the US.
Representatives for the commission, Huawei and ZTE didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The ban will require telecom companies to strip out any equipment from the vendors and apply across all EU institutions in member states, the people said. It would follow the commission’s decision to block its staff from using TikTok Inc. over security concerns over the social-media app’s data-collection practices.
When the commission first published the toolbox three years ago, the EU’s executive arm didn’t name names. Instead, the commission encouraged countries to reduce their dependencies on what it termed “high-risk” vendors.
Some countries, like Sweden, made it their policy to remove the Chinese sellers from their telecom operations. However, most countries did not. The commission has become increasingly frustrated by countries, including Germany, with networks that rely heavily on Huawei equipment.