No Way or the Huawei: A Grounded Theory Approach to the 5G Debate in the EU

Christoffer Waldemarsson & Wilmer Sarasto Löwenberg

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

This study has analysed the debate on whether to ban Huawei in the European roll-out of 5G networks to address the current lack of nuance and oversimplification that has come to characterize the public discussion as of recent. Using a grounded theory approach, a large number of policy documents, government reports, EU publications, think tank reports, news articles and white papers have been coded and analysed in an attempt to break down the risks and underlying challenges facing the European Union in the Huawei debate. The result of the analysis was a comprehensive framework outlining the key features of the debate and how they relate to each other. Three main risks were identified in the data, each representing a specific aspect of the Huawei and 5G debate; (I) Technical risks; (II) Industrial risks and (III) Structural risks. The risks were further analysed and enabled the identification of three underlying challenges corresponding to the three risk categories: trust, competitiveness, and unity. These challenges were in turn conceptualized to increase the understanding of how they affected the European Union and its role in the Huawei and 5G debate. The research concluded that all risks and challenges were linked by their geopolitical nature and the notion of European autonomy. The Huawei debate has come to reflect a number of broader concerns, anxieties and woes about the EU project and its role in a geopolitical climate characterized by changing power structures – stretching far beyond the binary decision of allowing a Chinese vendor in EU’s 5G implementation.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages113
SupervisorsEleni Tsingou