BRUSSELS: The European Union needs to come up with a strategy to counter disinformation about 5G technology or risk false claims derailing its economic recovery and digital goals, a group of 15 countries including Poland and Sweden said.
Conspiracy theories that the novel coronavirus may be linked to the wireless technology have led to the torching of mobile phone masts in 10 European countries and assaults on maintenance workers in recent months.
The 27-nation EU sees 5G as the linchpin of its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and technology autonomy, with its promise to enable everything from self-driving cars to remote surgery and more automated manufacturing.
The 15 countries listed their concerns and proposals in a joint letter to EU digital chief Margrethe Vestager, internal market commissioner Thierry Breton and values chief Vera Jourova that was seen by Reuters.
"It is clear ... that we are witnessing increasing activity of the anti-5G movement across the European Union," they said, calling for the EU to "take an active, long-term and systemic approach" to tackling concerns about 5G and electromagnetic fields (EMF).
"We, as Member States are willing to contribute to this EU-wide initiative with our national expertise and best practice to tackle the issue of 5G and EMF disinformation," the letter said.
The countries urged more scientific research on the risks to people's health, proposed an awareness-raising campaign across Europe and also suggested a broad debate taking into account the fears and worries of opponents to 5G.
Other signatories to the letter include Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal and Slovakia.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Catherine Evans)