Germany is trying to reach consensus on Huawei risks

Germany needs to reach consensus within the government that any telecom company poses a threat to national security in order to exclude its equipment from national 5G networks.

The latest version of the IT Security Act comes after months of debate in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition, which split over how to craft a policy mechanism to judge whether a vendor can be trusted.

This modus operandi is crucial in determining whether the Chinese company Huawei can remain in Germany or should be banned, as have the United States and some of its allies.

The draft law seeks to reach a consensus between Merkel, who favors close business ties with China, and her coalition partners in the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) who are hardening Beijing led by Heiko Maas, the foreign minister.

And Britain openly declared that Huawei is not wanted, as it asked mobile phone operators to phase out its devices from their networks, while France settled on an implicit ban.

The legal dispute also escalated in Sweden after Huawei appealed a decision to ban it from fifth generation networks for reasons of national security.

The latest version of Germany’s information technology security law seeks to establish a permanent committee operating by consensus made up of representatives from the chancellery and the ministries of interior, economy and foreign affairs.

If the work committee fails to reach a common understanding, the matter is escalated to the ministers, and if no agreement is reached, it is referred to the governmental dispute settlement procedures.

The complex process, in Huawei’s case, means that any potential ban requires compelling evidence and political conviction that its equipment poses security risks.

That could represent a tactical victory for Huawei, which denies US claims that its devices include open back doors for electronic spies and is beholden to Beijing.

The bill also represents good news for Germany’s three telecom companies – Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland – that rely on Huawei, and say replacing their devices costs billions.

A government source said: It is expected that the draft law will be presented to the Merkel government for approval in December.

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