5G action plan

In “A Europe Fit for the Digital Age”

PDF version

The previous European Commission presented a non-legislative measure in its communication '5G for Europe: an action plan', which foresees a common EU calendar for a coordinated 5G commercial launch in 2020, as well as joint work with Member States and industry stakeholders to identify and allocate spectrum bands for 5G, organise pan-European 5G trials as of 2018, promote common global 5G standards and encourage the adoption of national 5G deployment roadmaps across all EU Member States. Furthermore, Commission has set three related objectives for 2025:

  • All main socio-economic drivers, such as schools, universities, research centres, transport hubs, all providers of public services such as hospitals and administrations, and enterprises relying on digital technologies, should have access to extremely high – gigabit connectivity (allowing users to download/upload 1 gigabit of data per second).
  • All European households, rural or urban, should have access to connectivity offering a download speed of at least 100 Mbps (megabit per second), which can be upgraded to Gbps (gigabit per second).
  • All urban areas as well as major roads and railways should have uninterrupted 5G coverage, the fifth generation of wireless communication systems. As an interim target, 5G should be commercially available in at least one major city in each EU Member State by 2020.

On 1 June 2017, the European Parliament adopted the resolution ’Internet connectivity for growth, competitiveness and cohesion: European gigabit society and 5G'. It welcomes the Commission’s strategy and supports its targets, while calling for an explicit 5G deployment timetable including a technology-neutral approach that tackles the digital divide, and an ambitious 5G financing strategy.

On 2 December 2016 at the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council, ministers expressed their support for the connectivity objectives in the telecom framework overhaul proposals and agreed on the need to work together to achieve them, including on 5G.

On 1 March 2018, an agreement on spectrum for 5G was reached between the European Parliament and the Council negotiation teams as part of the Electronic Communications Code trilogue discussions. Parliament adopted the agreement in plenary on 14 November 2018 and the Council adopted the Electronic Communications Code on 4 December 2018.

Other aspects of the 5G action plan as detailed above on the strategic connectivity objectives for 2025 are ongoing. 

On 12 March 2019, Parliament adopted in plenary a resolution calling for action at EU level on the security threats linked to China’s growing technological presence in the EU. The resolution asks the Commission to mandate ENISA (the EU Cybersecurity Agency) to work on a certification scheme ensuring that the rollout of 5G in the EU meets the highest security standards.

On 9 October 2019, Member States, with the support of the Commission and ENISA, published a report on the EU coordinated risk assessment on cybersecurity in 5G networks. On 3 December 2019, the Council published its conclusions on the issue of mitigating security risks regarding 5G deployment in the EU.

On 29 January 2020, the Commission published the 5G toolkit prepared by the NIS cooperation group with mitigating measures

In its conclusions from 1 and 2 October 2020, the European Council asked to Commission to support the acceleration for the deployment of very high capacity and secure network infrastructures such as 5G all over the EU. To ensure this, it also urged all Member States to submit their national plans on the roll-out of 5G to the Commission by the end of 2020, as set out in the 5G action lpan and to consider the the 5G cybersecurity toolbox

On 9 March 2021 the Commission published its connectivity targets under the digital decade communication, to support the digital transformation of Europe. As part of them, all EU households should have gigabit connectivity and all populated areas should be covered by 5G by 2030. 

On 25 March 2021, the Member States, in close cooperation with the Commission, agreed on a connectivity toolbox, pursuant to the Connectivity Recommendation of 18 September 2020. The toolbox consists of a set of best practices that are considered as the most efficient in allowing and encouraging operators to roll out very high capacity networks and 5G.

On 17 December 2021 the EU put forward the first large-scale 6G research and innovation work programme and on 15 December 2022 the second one.

On 18 October 2022 the Commission announced in its work program 2023 a legislative initiative to establish the new radio spectrum policy programme (RSPP 2.0) in Q3 2023

On 23 February 2023 the Commission presented a set of actions aimed to make gigabit connectivity available to all citizens and businesses across the EU by 2030 (see related wagon on the Gigabit Infrastructure Act', ).

The Commission has stressed in its second progress report published on 15 June 2023 on the implementation of the 5G EU toolbox by the NIS cooperation group  that Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE represent a materially higher risk than other 5G suppliers do. Therefore, Member States’ decision to restrict or exclude Huawei and ZTE from 5G networks are justified and compliant with the EU toolbox on 5G cybersecurity and those suppliers would be progressively phased out from existing connectivity services of the Commission sites.

According to the first report on the state of the digital decade published on 27 September 2023, 5G coverage stands at 81% of the population, dropping to 51% in rural areas. However, the deployment of 5G stand-alone networks is lagging and 5G is still falling short in quality with regards to end-users' expectations and industry needs.




Further reading:

Author: Maria del Mar Negreiro Achiaga, Members' Research Service, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

As of 20/03/2024.