"Go big" for European chip sovereignty, says Silicon Saxony

March 07, 2021 // By Peter Clarke
"Go big" for European chip sovereignty, says Silicon Saxony
The Silicon Saxony industry association has said funding for the European semiconductor industry needs to be comparable with that in the United States and also warned against delay.

President Biden recently signed an executive order calling for a 100-day review of key supply chains, which is seen to back a $37 billion support package for US chip manufacturing.

Silicon Saxony's exhortation came in an open letter to the German ministers and members of the Bundestag that broadly welcomed the possibility of a second Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) for microelectronics. The IPCEI is a funding mechanism that supposedly bypasses national and European Union commitments to the World Trade Organization not to subsidize commercial activities.

Silicon Saxony, a network of companies and associations promoting the semiconductor industry in that part of Germany, welcomed the prospect of an IPCEI-2 saying it could be a contribution to securing German and European technological sovereignty.

The letter was sent on the deadline for expressions of interest for participation on March 1. The letter pointed out that, despite the success of the first IPCEI, production of chips in Europe continues to fall by volume. It did not comment on how Europe lags many other regions in technical capability.

The letter was clearly intended to galvanize ambition and urgency amongst the politicians to whom it was addressed. It pointed out that regions such as the United States, Japan and China are setting aside large sums to achieve technological sovereignty and reduce their dependence on the technology leaders Taiwan and South Korea.

It pointed out that the European economy has been hobbled because of chip shortages in the automotive sector and that this was a natural consequence of a lack of sovereignty. It pointed out such risks would likely become more widespread across different application sectors and more significant with the increasing digitalization of society.

Next: Don't delay

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