Huawei seeks EU court involvement in Swedish ban

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is appealing a Swedish court’s decision to uphold a ban on its 5G kit and said it wants the EU’s highest court to weigh in if it doesn’t get its way. The company called on the Court of Justice of the European Union to “clarify a number of important questions on the interpretation of EU law, in the event that [Swedish courts] do not share Huawei’s interpretation of these EU rules,” a spokesperson for Huawei said in a statement Wednesday.  Huawei this month appealed a judgment by Sweden’s administrative court from June, which upheld a ban on using Chinese equipment for 5G networks in the country.

The case could set a precedent, since Huawei and European security authorities are tussling in multiple countries across the Continent, and the Court of Justice stepping in would raise the stakes for both the company and the way some governments are pushing it out of their networks. Sweden’s telco regulator in October last year decided to prohibit telecoms operators from buying equipment from Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese telecoms equipment maker, in what was arguably the toughest ban of Chinese 5G kit across the EU, and which put Sweden at the frontline of a trade war with China. The company filed its full appeal of the Swedish ruling on October 1, arguing the decision failed to address security questions and that those needed to “be examined by a higher authority.”

Crucial to Huawei’s appeal is the question of how public authorities should show proof of security threats posed by Chinese 5G kit. Last year, European cybersecurity authorities recommended against using Chinese equipment in 5G networks, arguing it increased chances of hacking, data protection violations, sabotage as well as economic reliance on China and its companies. In Sweden’s case, the telecoms regulator imposed its ban on Chinese 5G equipment based on security services’ risk assessment — much of which has remained confidential.

Huawei criticized the June ruling, saying the court “accepted without further analysis the assumptions and sweeping speculations of the Security and Defense Forces, as well as the lack of concrete evidence and detailed analysis by the authorities.

These authorities have been given too much influence on issues in which they do not have competence.”

A spokesperson for the Swedish telecoms regulator declined to comment on Huawei’s decision to appeal.

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