A majority of European Union (EU) member states completed the first step of a far-reaching risk assessment for 5G networks, advancing a process which is due to complete on 1 October.

In a statement, commissioner for the Security Union, Julian King, and commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, said member states had “responded promptly to our call for concrete measures to help ensure cybersecurity of 5G networks across the EU”.

“The national risk assessments are essential to make sure that member states are adequately prepared for the deployment of the next-generation of wireless connectivity that will soon form the backbone of our societies and economies,” they said.

Assessments have been completed by 24 of the EU’s 28 member states.

The EC unveiled its 5G security plan in March, at a time when there was intense pressure from the US for a ban on the use of equipment made by Chinese vendor Huawei.

However, instead of taking action against the vendor specifically, the European Commission (EC) proposed a common approach to security across the EU, including safeguards against perceived threats from Chinese equipment suppliers.

Huawei released its own statement welcoming “the fact-based approach that the EU plans to take in reviewing the national risk assessments of 5G networks”.

“We fully agree with the stance that common security standards for 5G networks are required across the EU and welcome the commissioner’s announcement that such measures will not be targeting particular services or suppliers,” it said.

Notably, the US position on Huawei has also softened in recent weeks. The US government has said it will ease an export ban, allowing companies in the country to continue to do business with the vendor on condition these are not judged to threaten national security.

Concerted approach
The EU risk assessment process is due to complete in October, with necessary action then taken by each national government. In October 2020, member states will cooperate with the EC to determine if additional measures need to be taken.

In their statement, the commissioners urged member states to remain committed to the concerted approach “and use this important step to gain momentum for a swift and secure rollout of 5G networks”.

“We hope that the outcomes will be taken into account in the process of 5G spectrum auctions and network deployment, which is taking place across the EU now and in the coming months,” they added.