The Senate passed on Monday the draft legislation initiated by the Government regarding the 5G, which could remove Huawei from the Romanian 5G telecommunications market. The Senate is the decision-making chamber. The bill will go to the president for final assent if no further challenge to the Constitutional Court is made.
The senators from AUR party tried to send the bill back to the Senate commissions, motivating this request by the fact that the legislative initiative was not notified to the European Commission. AUR also stated that it had corresponded with the European Commission, but vaguely presented the content of the notification it had received from the European institution. As a result, AUR senator Claudiu Tarziu’s proposal to refer the initiative back to the committee was rejected, with 65 votes “against”.
The vote in the Senate chamber ended with the adoption of the legislative initiative, with 117 votes “for”, 13 votes “against” and one abstention. Prime Minister Florin Citu voted for the initiative as a senator.
The Senate is the decision-making body in this case. The law will now go to promulgation if there is no challenge to the Constitutional Court.
The law aims to adopt measures regarding the authorization of manufacturers of technologies, equipment, and software used in information and communication infrastructures of national interest, as well as in electronic communications networks through which 5G electronic communications services are provided – 5G networks in order to prevent, contract, and eliminate risks, threats, and vulnerabilities to the national security and defense of the country.
The normative act was adopted on May 19 by the Chamber of Deputies after it was approved by the Government on April 15 and sent to the legislative forum in an emergency procedure, despite an intense lobbying campaign by Huawei.
Outside of Huawei, several players in the telecom market are complaining that the provisions of the bill will lead to an exponential increase in costs, as they have to quickly replace the current equipment provided by the Chinese manufacturer.
The project gives the final word to the Supreme Council of National Defense (CSAT) regarding the authorization of the projects and de facto excludes the Chinese company Huawei from manufacturing the equipment.
According to the project, in order to participate in the construction of 5G telecommunications networks in Romania, companies must meet several conditions at the same time:
a) a company is not under the control of a foreign government in the absence of an independent legal system;
b) has a transparent shareholding structure;
c) does not have a history of unethical corporate conduct;
d) is subject to a legal system that imposes transparent corporate practices
As for the Chinese company Huawei, it is subject to US sanctions for unethical corporate conduct and is subject to an opaque legal system – the Chinese one – which does not impose transparent corporate practices.
The draft law approved by the Government also stipulates that the authorization will be granted by the decision of the Prime Minister, after the assent of the Supreme Council of National Defense (CSAT), assent that must be followed by the prime minister.
The draft states that the CSAT’s assent “is issued by reference to the obligations assumed by the Romanian state in cooperation with international organizations of which Romania is a part, the European Union and bilateral strategic partnerships” – reference to the strategic partnership with the US, which has adopted an extremely critical position towards China in general and Huawei in particular.
The CSAT is an institution led by the President of Romania, which includes several ministers and heads of secret services. Decisions in the CSAT are taken unanimously. President Iohannis has repeatedly said that he wants Romania to build a 5G network with partners from NATO member states.
Last week, the law received a favorable report from the Senate’s legal, economic, defense, and communications committees, with a number of amendments.
According to one of the amendments, the project provides that the technologies, equipment, and software used in electronic communications networks at the date of entry into force of the law and which contribute to the provision of 5G electronic communications services, whose manufacturers do not have authorization according to this law, may be used for a maximum period of 7 years. After 7 years, they must be replaced. The initial term was 5 years.