Germany, France, Spain, and ten other European Union countries have joined forces to invest in processor and semiconductor technology, the key to Internet-connected devices and data processing, to catch up with the United States and Asia, according to Reuters.
The report notes that Europe’s share of the €440 billion ($533 billion) global semiconductor market is about 10 percent, while the EU currently relies on chips made abroad. The reliance on foreign chips and other products has become a major concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, and security concerns by some foreign governments have added to concerns about reliance on foreign chips used in automobiles, medical devices, cell phones and networks, and environmental monitoring.
The European Union agreed earlier this year to allocate 145 billion euros, one-fifth of its Viral Economic Recovery Fund, for digital projects. The 13 countries – whose signatories include Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia – said they would work together to strengthen Europe’s electronics and embedded systems value chain. In a joint statement, they said, “This will require public and private stakeholders to work together to pool investments and coordinate actions.”
The group will reportedly establish industry alliances with companies to conduct research and investment to design and manufacture processors and find funding for such projects. It will also propose a Europe-wide program called the “Important Project of Common EuropeanInterest,” which would allow funding under lax EU state aid rules. The group will seek to establish common electronic standards and certification.
Thierry Breton, head of the EU’s digital business, said in a statement: “A collective approach can help us capitalize on existing strengths and seize new opportunities as advanced processor chips play an increasingly important role in Europe’s industrial strategy and digital sovereignty.” He also noted that Europe has all the capabilities to diversify and reduce key dependencies, while remaining open. Therefore, we need to develop ambitious plans to differentiate and lead our most important value chains, from chip design to advanced manufacturing towards the 2nm node.