Huawei has slammed the European Commission's (EC) recommendation to its member nations to ban the vendor from their 5G networks.

The comments from Huawei come in response to comments made by EU Commissioner for internal market, Thierry Breton, who said he wants more member states to remove “high-risk” suppliers such as Huawei and ZTE from their mobile Internet infrastructure upgrades, citing national security risks.

– Sebastian Moss

In a statement, Huawei said it has been discriminated against without verification.

"Huawei strongly opposes and disagrees with the comments made by representatives from the European Commission. This is clearly not based on a verified, transparent, objective, and technical assessment of 5G networks," said a Huawei spokesperson, noting that restrictions based on such judgments will pose serious economic and social risks.

"It would hamper innovation and distort the EU market. An Oxford Economics report states that excluding Huawei could increase 5G investment costs by up to tens of billions of euros, and it will have to be paid by European consumers," the company continued.

Huawei has been accused of being heavily linked to the Chinese state in recent years, with the US, in particular, pushing for a ban on the vendor in Western markets.

Breton said last week: "I can only emphasize the importance of speeding up decisions to replace high-risk suppliers from their 5G networks. I have also reminded the telecoms operators concerned that it is time to get to grips with this issue.” 

As of now, only 10 EU countries have either restricted or banned Huawei from their 5G networks, said Breton, who urged members to avoid the Chinese vendors.

"Publicly singling out an individual entity as ‘HRV’(High-Risk Vendor) without a legal basis is against principles of free trade," Huawei said. "It is of paramount importance to emphasize that the discriminatory ‘HRV’ assessment shall not be applied to any vendor without justified procedure and adequate hearing. As an economic operator in the EU, Huawei holds procedural and substantial rights and should be protected under the EU and Member States’ laws as well as their international commitments."

The EC was reportedly seeking to ban HRVs last year from playing a role in the development of 5G networks, in a move aimed at the Chinese vendors.

“For our part, the Commission will implement the 5G toolbox principles to its own procurement of telecoms services, to avoid exposure to Huawei and ZTE,” Breton said.

The 5G toolbox was adopted in January 2020, as a way of identifying the risks of accepting certain providers of 5G infrastructure into its rollout, and came at a time when several countries, including the UK, were deciding to ban Huawei over security fears.

The UK would decide months later to issue a complete ban on Huawei's involvement in building out its 5G networks.

Recent reports have suggested Portugal could join several other European countries in banning Huawei, while Germany is also said to be considering a ban on Huawei and another Chinese vendor, ZTE, from parts of its 5G network, despite previously stating that it would approve equipment from Chinese telecoms vendors on a 'case-by-case' basis.

"ZTE's only request is to be treated fairly and objectively by regulators and legislators - just like any other vendor," said ZTE in a statement.