EU proposes Chips Act to build technology sovereignty
Von der Leyen included the proposal as part of her ‘state-of-the-union’ address given to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. European politicians having been pushing hard to try an engineer a renaissance in a European chip industry that long ago decided to specialize in less capital-intensive sectors leaving the most costly leading-edge digital chip production to foundries mainly outside Europe.
In her speech Von der Leyen observed that factories are working at reduced speed because of a shortage of semiconductors and that Europe depends on state-of-the-art chips made in Asia. “So this is not just a matter of our competitiveness. This is also a matter of tech sovereignty.”
Von der Leyen said the European Chips Act would coordinate European and national investment across the value chain.
“Yes, this is a daunting task. And I know that some claim it cannot be done. But they said the same thing about Galileo 20 years ago,” von der Leyen said referencing Europe’s decision to create an independent global navigation satellite system for strategic reasons. “And look what happened. We got our act together. Today European satellites provide the navigation system for more than 2 billion smartphones worldwide. We are world leaders. So let’s be bold again, this time with semiconductors.
Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the internal market, posted a blog about the European Chips Act under the title ‘How a European Chips Act will put Europe back in the tech race’.
He made the parallel with the US Chips for America act designed to finance the creation of an American research centre and to help open up advanced production factories and observed that the US, Taiwan and China are all seeking to bolster the leadership and independence. “Europe cannot and will not lag behind,” Breton said.
Next: More Breton
Breton said it was important that national strategies for technical sovereignty should be integrated in a coherent European vision and strategy. He added that the European Chips Act was important to prevent a race to provide national public subsidies fragmenting the single market.
He added that he wanted the European Chips Act to provide: a European R&D strategy; a collective plan to enhance European chip manufacturing; a framework for international partnership.
Breton added that it may be necessary to set up a dedicated European Semiconductor Fund.
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