According to sources, the Romanian government has backed a bill that will see Huawei barred from taking part in the development of the country’s 5G networks

In a major win for the US in the 5G cold war against China, Romania is the latest country to announce that it will ban the Chinese vendor from its 5G networks.

The announcement came yesterday with a government source telling Reuters that the government had passed a bill in favour of the ban. 

"The government just approved this bill of paramount importance for Romania, sealing a 2019 memorandum signed in Washington, meaning that China and Huawei are ruled out from any would-be partnership on 5G with the Romanian state," Pavel Popescu, member of Romania’s IT&C and National Security Committee, told Reuters.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) in question relates to one signed between the US and Romanian governments back in 2019, in which the two countries agreed that “as part of risk-based security approach, careful and complete evaluation of 5G vendors is necessary”. Such an evaluation would ascertain whether a vendor has transparent ownership and any ties to a foreign government, which would preclude them from taking part in Romania’s 5G infrastructure.

The bill itself was first drafted last year, but was followed shortly after its announcement by a legal challenge from Huawei, who were fighting a similar battle against Polish legislation at the same time. The vendor appealed to the European Commission on the grounds that the drafted laws contravened European Union legislation forbidding companies from being discriminated against based on their country of origin. This was a similar approach they had taken following an Estonia ban earlier in 2020.  

Ultimately, however, it seems that this appeal has fallen on deaf ears. 

The bill could be turned into law as early as next week and will have a great impact in the upcoming 5G spectrum auction set to take place later this year. Some of the Romanian operators already have a significant portion of their 4G equipment provided by Huawei and a ban on their participation for 5G could be very problematic.


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