As if the EU didn’t have enough on its plate with Covid, many member states are now warning that they are being assailed by a growing anti-5G movement which could hamper the bloc’s digital ambitions.
In a letter sent to the European Commission’s vice presidents Margrethe Vestager and Vera Jourova and digital commissioner Thierry Breton, 15 member states issued a stark warning about the challenges facing the Bloc. The group stated that recent attacks on telecom infrastructure were not only ‘a threat to the economy of affected member states, but hinder the ability for the EU to meet its ambitious 5G goals.’
The letter comes after similar warnings from industry groups, earlier this year which came with concerns following mast torchings and harassment of telecom engineers.
But why are things coming to a pitch now?
Opposition to the next generation of telecom technology has come together around Stop 5G groups on social media, some of which have successfully pushed some authorities to start investigating the health effects from the technology. Encouraged by this, these groups have spread wild theories linking 5G to the spread of coronavirus.
Such is the impact these groups are having that figures from the telecom industry (particularly GSMA) showed that there had been 221 arson attacks across 18 countries globally, with the UK (87), France (50) and the Netherlands (30) being the most heavily hit.
This is all despite the World Health Organisation stating time and again that little evidence exists linking cell phone radiation to health problems.
The panic has reached such levels that the International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection, which sets global health standards on telecom technology felt the need to update its guidelines to cover many 5G applications, hoping that doing so would put people at ease.
Unfortunately, their aim has not worked. The Anti-5G movement demands further research on the issue and has even successfully convinced politicians from France, the Netherlands and Belgium to pursue the matter.
With the EU seeing 5G as a linchpin in its recovery from coronavirus-due to its ability to enable everything from self-driving cars to remote surgery-the development of this movement must be terrifying. They will have to act quickly through detailed campaigns that raise awareness about 5G and perhaps through open and free debates to help tackle concerns and fears, if they want things to go smoothly.