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Audit preview: Implementing secure 5G networks in the EU and its Member States

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08/12/2020

5G, the fifth generation of mobile and wireless telecommunication systems, marks a revolutionary advance on its predecessors (3G and 4G). It offers ultra-high-speed connection, supporting a high number of connected devices and objects (‟internet of things”). 5G will affect many aspects of EU citizen’s life, such as e-health, smart cars and smart electricity networks.

The way 5G is deployed across the EU will therefore be important for the effective functioning of the single market and Europe’s digitalisation efforts. In particular, delays in achieving an appropriate 5G coverage, as well as 5G security issues, may have huge implications for the EU’s competitiveness and strategic independence.

The ECA is currently conducting an audit to assess whether the EU and its Member States are implementing secure 5G networks in a timely and concerted manner. This follows on from its review, published earlier this year, of the EU’s response to China’s state-driven investment strategy, which also flagged 5G security as an issue of concern. In particular, it highlighted the lack of a concerted approach among Member States and the use of Chinese 5G equipment in critical EU infrastructure.

We will examine the EU’s 5G set-up, the support provided to the Member States by the Commission, and the Member States’ implementation of 5G, especially their consideration of security concerns.

‟Implementation” refers both to the development of the framework (such as legislative or regulatory measures), and to the deployment of the physical infrastructure, e.g. antennas and broadband.

If you wish to contact the audit team, you may do so at the following email address: ECA-5G-audit@eca.europa.eu.