MPs vote down bill that would bar Huawei from market

Ljubljana – The National Assembly has voted a bill on electronic communications, put forward by the government to transpose EU law, unfit for further reading. The bill would bar high-risk vendors from the market in a provision directed against Chinese Huawei.

The bill was to replace the currently valid act of 2004 with Mark Boris Andrijanič, the minister of digital transformation, saying the main goal was to transpose the relevant EU law where Slovenia was already running somewhat late.

By transposing the EU law, Slovenia would stimulate connectivity and use of high-capacity networks throughout the country, making change of provider free and broadband access cheaper for customers, the minister said.

He argued that the bill would “significantly enhance the security of communication networks and services”, an important issue in light of the increased risks brought about by the 5G technology.

While the MPs of the ruling coalition and part of the opposition concurred, the centre-left opposition raised issue with provisions that would bar a specific vendor from the market and prevent Slovenian providers from using its equipment.

While not mentioning the vendor specifically, the bill would ban providers from using the equipment of high-risk suppliers if they are labelled by such by the government based on the opinion of the National Security Council.

“We’re talking of Huawei,” said Jani Möderndorfer, an MP for the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), who noted that Slovenia signed a declaration on security of 5G networks with the US in August 2020.

He said that European Commission’s recommendations did not mention excluding any supplier but merely talked of equipment that should be paid attention to. “We changed that into suppliers,” he said.

The opposition deputy factions also noted warnings by the Agency for Communication Networks and Services that the bill would encroach on its powers.

The proposal was defeated by 45 votes to 40 on Friday.