European Chips Act coming February, says EC president
The act, first mentioned in September 2011 (see EU proposes Chips Act to build technology sovereignty) is intended to bolster European chip ecosystem, including production.
Speaking on a videoconference call to the World Economic Forum, von der Leyen re-iterated the premise that Europe produces 10 percent of the world’s semiconductor output and needs to double this percentage.
“This is a dependency and uncertainty we simply cannot afford. By 2030, 20 percent of the world’s microchips production should be in Europe,” she said. “Keep in mind that the world’s production itself will double. This means quadrupling today’s European production.”
Von der Leyen said the European Chips Act would allow public support for “European ‘first of a kind’ production facilities that benefit all of Europe.”
She then said: “I want to be clear; Europe will always work to keep global markets open and connected. It is in the world’s interest, and in our own. But we do need to tackle the bottlenecks that slow down our own growth.”
However, the much-used 10 percent figure is seen by many observers as being optimistic.
According to market research firm IC Insights Europe had 5.7 percent of the world’s installed wafer capacity as of December 2020, and given the lack of leading-edge production in Europe, by value Europe’s production could be considerably lower (see China rises in global IC wafer capacity ranking). As long ago as 2014 IC Insights saw Europe’s share of 300mm IC manufacturing falling below 1 percent of world output (see Europe’s 300mm IC manufacturing falls below 1% of world output).
With the announced spending plans of major semiconductor companies (see TSMC sets $40 billion capex budget for 2022) it follows that hundreds of billions of euros would have to also be spent to achieve von der Leyen’s 20 percent aspiration.
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