The fifth generation of communications infrastructures (5G) is expected to support the digitisation of the economic and social activities worldwide. The European Commission strongly supports international cooperation towards global interoperability, namely through common standardisation and spectrum harmonisation.

The future of telecommunications and computing infrastructure connecting billions of users and trillions of devices is requiring more efficient technology to be able to overcome exploding traffic and properly address security issues. This (r)evolution will rely on a common global definition of 5G and associated standards, and of its service characteristics. Only then can we ensure seamless optical and wireless connectivity, interoperable ways to store and access information and computing power (cloud computing), sensing the world at large (Internet of Things) and ensuring the highest security and energy efficiency.

A global vision for 5G has been agreed at International Telecommunication Union (ITU) level, and we are now in the phase of standardisation in international bodies like the 3GPP, the ITU and the Open Networking Foundation. The 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G PPP) plays an essential role in federating the European input into this process.

Similarly, identification of spectrum for 5G is discussed in Europe among the Commission and Member States. This is fed to global discussions aiming at maximizing the amount of spectrum globally available, in order to enable economies of scale.

In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged, in particular with countries that are well advanced in a given area (e.g. Brazil, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the USA for 5G).

In particular, international cooperation is a critical instrument to arrive at a global consensus on 5G vision, standards and spectrum requirements. To that end, the European Commission has signed so far Joint Declarations on 5G with Brazil, China, Japan and South Korea. Cooperation is also well established with India and the United States, and informal targeted cooperation is ongoing with Taiwan.

A worldmap highlighting countries where 5G agreements have been signed with the EU

European Union - Brazil

The European Commission has been cooperating with Brazil on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) since 2008 in the context of an EU-Brazil Agreement for Scientific and Technological Cooperation. Four EU-Brazil joint calls have already been launched, starting back in FP7.

A specific joint declaration on developing 5G was signed at the Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona by Günther H. Oettinger, then European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, and Minister André Figueiredo, then Brazilian Minister of Communications.

The EU-Brazil Joint Declaration on 5G was followed in 2017 by the signing of an industrial agreement between the respective industrial associations, the EU's 5G Infrastructure Association (5G IA) and 5G Brasil, a private autonomous project under the Telebrasil umbrella

The EU and Brazil committed to developing a global definition of 5G and to identifying the services, like the Internet of Things or very high-definition video streaming, to be the first delivered by 5G networks. Both partners will work to define common standards to ensure a stronger position on the global stage.

They will cooperate in identifying the most promising radio frequencies to meet additional spectrum requirements for 5G, especially in the framework of the ITU. They will also promote the deployment of 5G in fields like smart cities, agro-food, education, health, transport and energy, as well as joint research projects in this area.

Four joint calls were launched in FP7 (2011 and 2013) and in H2020 (2015 and 2017). In the latest, a project was selected on 5G for low population-density areas, an issue of relevance both in Brazil and in the EU.

European Union - China

A Joint Declaration on developing 5G networks technology was signed with China in September 2015 in Beijing by Günther H. Oettinger, then European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, and Miao Wei, then Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology.

Commissioner Oettinger stated: "With today's signature with China, the EU has now teamed up with the most important Asian partners in a global race to make 5G a reality by 2020. It's a crucial step in making 5G a success."

The signing of the agreement conveys the commitment of the EU and China to strengthen their cooperation on defining basic functionalities, key technologies and time plan for 5G. Both parties agreed to jointly promote global standardisation for 5G. This Joint Declaration also stipulates reciprocity and openness in terms of access to 5G networks research funding, market access as well as in membership of Chinese and EU 5G associations. Therefore, EU telecoms and ICT industry in particular, are expected to have easier access to the Chinese market, under this Joint Declaration on 5G.

The EU-China Joint Declaration on 5G will be followed by the signing of an industrial agreement between the respective industrial associations, the EU's 5G Infrastructure Association (5G IA) and China's IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group.

The first Joint Call on 5G collaboration was ICT-22-2018, focusing on 5G trials addressing two specific scenarios: enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) on the 3.5GHz band, and Internet of Vehicles (IoV) based on LTE-V2X.

European Union – India

In India, regulatory and policy aspects of 5G are managed by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) which operates under the Ministry of Communication and IT. The DoT has promoted the creation of the “Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India” (TSDSI), which gathers the Indian industry in view of creating standards and promoting deployment of standardised technology. The 5G Infrastructure Association, the private side of the 5G PPP, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with TSDSI on 11 April 2018 with the objective of fostering industrial cooperation between India and Europe. This cooperation targets regular and structured exchange of information of regional developments including regulatory and 5G spectrum approaches, technological approaches towards standardisation, deployment experience and involvement of vertical industries in the 5G ecosystem. Implementation of the MoU targets high-level events organisation, the last one having been organised under the auspices of the DoT in Dehli on 5 and 6 February 2019. At this stage India has taken the decision to distribute the 2.6 Ghz spectrum based on the full TDD mode similarly to China, USA, Japan. Positions on other bands are not yet official but are part of the cooperation discussion between 5G-IA and TSDSI.

In addition, the Commission cooperates with the Indian government on digital issues including 5G through the EU-India co-operation dialogue on Digital Communications as well as the EU-India Joint Working Group on ICTs.

European Union - Japan

A joint declaration on developing 5G was signed in May 2015 by Günther H. Oettinger, then European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, and Sanae Takaichi, then Japanese Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications.

Commissioner Oettinger said: "5G will be the backbone of the digitisation of our economy and society worldwide. This is why we strongly support and seek a global consensus and cooperation on 5G. Today's Declaration with Japan is a milestone on the road to a global definition of 5G, its service characteristics and standards."

The Joint declaration on 5G will follow the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the 5G Infrastructure Association (5G IA) and Japan's Fifth Generation Mobile Communications Promotion Forum (5GMF) on 25 March 2015. This Memorandum also indicates the commitment of the industry on working towards the deployment of 5G.

EU and Japan has set up a close cooperation on ICT policy issues since 2008, when the European Commission together with Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications initiated the Japan-EU ICT Dialogue. Japan-EU ICT dialogue set ground for the first ICT Japan-EU coordinated call published in October 2012. Their work is to design network and computing technologies for the next generation of telecommunications and cloud-based services beyond 2020.

The two latest joint calls, EUJ-01-2016 and EUJ-02-2018, had a focus on 5G, and beyond.

European Union - South Korea

A Joint Declaration on Strategic Cooperation in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and 5G, was signed in June 2014 by Neelie Kroes, then European Commission Vice President responsible for the EU Digital Agenda, and Mun-kee Choi, then Minister of Science, ICT and future Planning of the Republic of Korea.

Watch video of the spokesperson's statement on the 5G agreement with Korea.

The signing of this joint declaration reaffirmed the strengthening of the agreement of the November 2013 summit meeting, where both sides agreed on promoting R&D collaboration in the area of ICT.

This Declaration was instrumental to develop joint R&I cooperation actions in the areas of 5G, Cloud and Internet of Things (IoT), implemented through joint calls. The joint Declaration also paved the way towards structured exchanges on 5G policy matters, concerning the 5GVision, global standards and required 5G spectrum, with the objective of supporting global agreements on these issues. An industry Memorandum of Understanding was signed in June 2014 between the 5G Infrastructure Association (5G IA) and South Korea’s 5G Forum, providing the necessary industrial support to these policy commitments.

Two joint calls were launched, both with a focus on 5G: the first was EUK-01-2016 and the second EUK-02-2018.

European Union - Taiwan

Cooperation with Taiwan in the area of 5G has been agreed with the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) and managed by its 5G Technology Program Office at the Department of Industrial Technology (DoIT). It is being implemented via targeted calls in Horizon 2020. The first targeted call was in 2017, ICT-08-2017b, and the second is ICT-23-2019 in 2019, focusing on integrated end-to-end network for 5G trials for specific applications featuring high peak data rates and network density, ultra-low latency, and high reliability.

The Taiwanese partners are funded directly by the Taiwanese government.

European Union - USA

5G policy issue are regularly discussed as part of the EU-US ICT dialogues.

Both the EU and the NSF, namely through Programme for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR), address the challenges of advanced wireless research beyond 5G focusing on game changing technologies for wireless communications. The objective is to capitalize on existing testbeds and projects to establish transatlantic collaboration on advanced wireless platforms.

A first call was launched in 2018, ICT-21-2018, aiming at common transatlantic experiments linking platforms and testbeds, fostering common scientific roadmap, developing new tools and potential options for standards.