semiconductors

 

Two weeks after presenting the update of our European industrial strategy, I visited European tech giant ASML to put the new EU Semiconductor Alliance in motion.

Based in Veldhoven (Netherlands), ASML provides the essential equipment to the world’s main chip makers, and has the highest market capitalisation of the industry ($260 bn – well above US players in the sector).

Connected cars, smartphones, 5G, cloud, Internet of Things… Semiconductors are at the core of the digital and green transformation of our industry and economy. And yet Europe went from a 40% market share in the 90s down to 10% today.

 

We urgently need to reposition Europe on this critical technology

There is therefore urgency to act to reposition Europe on this critical technology. It is a question of industrial and technological leadership but also of resilience and strategic autonomy.

Europe is today dependent on this technology, as our mapping of strategic dependencies indicated. We see it very concretely today with the shortage of semiconductors that is hitting the European car industry.

We are strongly dependent on the US for general design capacity and on Asia for advanced chip fabrication.

 

Europe has true assets to leverage in this battle

But, through its R&D and manufacturing equipment excellence in nano technologies, Europe has true assets to leverage in this battle.

World manufacturers of chips at leading-edge nodes rely on the technology development on specific EUV lithography machines produced in Europe. And our European research is said to be 3-5 years ahead of the rest of world in terms of fundamental research in chips.

Now Europe is at a crossroads: do we want to be in the driving seat of the digital transformation, or be subject to the choices of others? Do we want Europe to lead and set our own rules, or we accept to be a simple bystander?

I choose leadership. I believe in pro-activeness, without fatality. With political will and industrial commitment, we can make sure Europe is back on the semiconductor race.

I hear the voices of those who say that it is ambitious.

 

Yes, our plan is ambitious

Yes it is. I see it as my responsibility to set the bar high. It is also my responsibility to mobilise the relevant players.

We have no time to lose. If we get organised, we have everything it takes to be a credible partner.

Our target is double:

  • to reach, by 2030, at least 20% of world production of semiconductors in Europe.
  • to build European capacity to design and manufacture the most powerful and energy-efficient processors.  

To do so, we are mobilising all efforts through a European Alliance on semiconductors that is in the making.

 

Towards 2 nanometers

The objective is clear: we must have in Europe the capacity to produce the most advanced semi-conductors at below 5nm towards 2nm.

With this Alliance, we will first discuss and deliver on the European vision and ambition, on the design, on the packaging, on the equipment, and on the production.

We will then of course build bridges with international partners. In fact, talks with different industrial partners are already ongoing. Partnerships will be necessary, yes – but at our conditions, especially when it comes to Europe’s security of supply.

The Alliance should also help mobilise the  necessaryinvestment in a coherent manner:

  • Through the EU budget with its different programmes (Horizon Europe, Digital Europe Programme & European Defence Fund).
  • Through national money, and here national recovery plans are crucial: 20% of the total amount (so around €130bn) must be invested into digital, including processors. I welcome the ongoing discussions to establish a second IPCEI which will allow to mobilise national public money to leverage private money.

This will give the industry a perspective and help them make their investment decision.

 

Europe has no time to lose

Europe has no time to lose.

If there is a sector in which to invest for Europe’s resilience, technological leadership and strategic geo-positioning, it must be this one.