Ladies and gentlemen,
I had the opportunity to meet the ECSEL community in 2018 and 2017 and I am very pleased to be again with you.
Digital technologies, in general, including electronic components and systems are key for ensuring our economic competitiveness and technologic autonomy.
To be able to play in the global scene Europe needs ambition, knowledge and critical mass.
The ECSEL Joint Undertaking has been an important vehicle to align the research and innovation agendas of the EU, Member States and industry.
Our success will depend on the capacity to lead the development of very advanced components and make them future proof.
By future-proof, I mean developing the next-generation electronic, quantum, neuro-inspired components and systems that Europe needs to become the first Green Continent.
Our scientists and engineers have to embed in their research and development work the requirement of energy efficiency by design.
By future-proof, I mean the ability to develop highly reliable components and systems on which our industries can rely to transform production processes.
Our scientists and engineers have to embed in their research and development work the requirement of security by design.
By future-proof, I mean the ability to develop alternative competitive technologies to increase market choice on essential components of the value chains reducing the external dependency of Europe.
Scientists and engineers from all corners of Europe have to be amongst the best. They need to have top-quality knowledge and be highly trained. They have to have access to top-level scientific equipment and infrastructures.
It is also a good time to take stock of the achievements and lessons learned from ECSEL experience since we are approaching the start of a new framework programme for research and innovation – the Horizon Europe.
The next months are critical to set an ambitious agenda to support the European policies. You are called to contribute to the design the future programme by enlarging your community and promoting pan-European collaborations.
This is even more important today when Europe is coming out from the COVID-19 pandemic that severely touched our economies.
You have a very important experience that can help building a stronger alignment and coordination of Research and Innovation between all stakeholders at the level of the EU, Member States, the industry and the wider scientific community.
Your experience can be effectively used to face future challenges including the ones related with the COVID crisis.
What you do will have an enormous economic impact since virtually all user industries, from all sectors – from health to automotive, aerospace, energy – will need to incorporate your technology in their systems.
It will have also a great societal impact since the emergence of the Internet of Things, each citizen will be carrying a piece of microelectronics in their pocket.
We are talking about a huge market, the one of micro and nanoelectronics, embedded and cyber-physical systems, enabling software and smart/microsystems.
We are also talking about 9 million jobs for Europe, over 1 million of whom are in the semiconductor industry. Many more jobs result from spill overs in other fast growing sectors like the Internet of Things, 5G, as well as in sectors undergoing a deep digital transformation like the automotive, health care and others.
ECSEL has also achieved great results that is important to mention, published in top scientific journals, cultivating rich and robust ecosystem spanning different sectors and types of participants from sub-sectors of the vast portfolio – from low-power processors to complex control systems for the car industry.
The (46) patents generated from research funded through ECSEL are a signal of very good performance in terms of frontier knowledge coming out of the JU.
Without losing track of the short-term priorities and to analyse what has been delivered, including the lessons learnt on the cooperation between the three pillars of ECSEL, (1) the EU, (2) the Member States and (3) Industry, we need to seriously look at the how to shape the next decade.
Which new ambitions, which new scope?
Which new long-term vision, which impacts?
How it align with EU policy priorities to justify the investments from Horizon Europe?
How to make Horizon Europe the strategic support vehicle underpinning the European Green Deal and Europe fit for digital age Policies?
Horizon Europe, the European Framework Program for research and innovation is our tool to generate new ideas, and turn ideas into concrete results.
The Commission proposed an ambitious budget for Horizon Europe for the coming 7 years.
Digital technologies are part of it as backbone of strategic value chains in many economic sectors in Europe. They are as much a means of producing value and creating jobs as they are an enabler of other industries.
Because we care about the strategic alignment as a critical factor for creating pan-European research and innovation collaborations, we have decided to “create” Horizon Europe in a different way.
The new methodology of co-creation with Member States, research organisations and industrial stakeholders allows to jointly preparing, from the outset, our priorities.
This effort translates also in additional energy to work across policies. Several parts of Horizon Europe, not only the cluster dedicated to digital industry and space, will promote cross-cutting collaborations.
They include, for example, smart health, renewable energy supply and storage, automated and green transport and circular industries, all of which are driven by advances in next generation internet, high-performance computing and key micro and nano technologies.
Future R&I partnerships of Horizon Europe are part of this co-creation exercise. I ask your full engagement to provide Europe the long-term vision we need.
At the same time, as we all have witnessed, Europe has to look at the strategies to recover swiftly from the COVID crisis.
Our economies were badly hit. The economic downturn in Europe is expected to reach 7.4% of GDP, much worse than in the 2009 crisis.
It is estimated that at least €1.5 trillion of additional public and private investment will be required in 2021 and 2022 to get Europe on the road to sustainable recovery.
The coronavirus crisis has shown the EU’s ability to react and quickly adapt to the emerging needs. The Commission in coordination with Member States has engaged our research and innovation resources in record time and across an array of our programs
We have launched special calls were targeted at improving the public health crisis response, treatments and diagnostics.
Startups were engaged in the EUvsVirus hackathon in an impressive adherence and the whole European Research Area was engaged in the ERAvsVirus action plan.
I am proud to have seen the mobilisation of all the resources that the EU has built over time with the EU Member States.
When ambitious and clear objectives are identified we have demonstrated our capacity to deliver.
When I met you in 2018, I committed personally to scale up the computing power in Europe so that it would match our potential. Today, we have European supercomputers working on finding the vaccine against COVID-19.
Europe needs to be better prepared for future large-scale disruptions and it has to respond to such emergencies at a pan-European scale.
The Commission proposed a large-scale recovery package that needs to be deployed efficiently and with vision.
A "Next Generation EU" recovery instrument with €750 billion from fresh financing from the financial markets and reinforced long-term EU budget for 2021-2027, with a consistent increase to research and innovation through Horizon Europe.
The package proposes substantial additional funding of €13.5 billion for Horizon Europe supporting Europe's shift towards a clean, circular, competitive and climate neutral economy.
It testifies how research and innovation features prominently in the European recovery package to make sure we don’t lose sight of the long-term policy priorities and that we can turn this crisis into an opportunity.
The COVID-19 crisis has shown how important digital technologies are to increase the EU’s infrastructure, services and digital competences, from education to research and governance.
We need to reinvigorate our manufacturing base supported by a strong work force with appropriate advanced skills. We cannot think of a competitive industry without an educational system that supports the top-quality skills and competences across the EU.
Europe remains one of the world largest markets for digital products and services as well as a global leader in ensuring privacy laws in the digital sphere. However, the contribution of European industry and businesses to the global digital supply chain has gradually diminished in the last twenty years.
The rapid pace of technological development among global competitors is creating concerns over technological sovereignty. For instance, the Internet has become a critical infrastructure for many social and economic activities.
The whole set of technologies to build the Next-Generation Internet, including the internet platforms, present challenges for ensuring European standards and customer protection against concentrations of market positions.
In fact, the Covid-19 outbreak revealed Europe’s overreliance on non-European solutions for the supply of essential goods and equipment. Even more importantly, it exposed limits of Europe’s manufacturing capacity.
Maximizing the supply choice will ensure fair access conditions by “user” industries to the most advanced digital technologies.
This calls for strengthened domestic capacity for production and deployment in sectors of strategic interest, especially in strategic supply chains and industrial ecosystems that stretch across the European Single Market.
Earlier this year, the European Commission adopted the European Industrial Strategy as a framework to support the competitiveness and sustainability of European industry.
The strategy aims to capture the opportunities and realities of the transformations that the industry is undergoing. Through the European Innovation Council the EU will create opportunities for scale up of innovative SMEs, especially in the area of breakthrough innovation.
The experience of ECSEL in public-private joint efforts can be very useful to fulfil these objectives if it is able to enlarge its community and foster pen-European collaborations.
It is crucial that industry plays its important part in the objective of achieving EU technological sovereignty, by safeguarding essential elements of strategic value chains, including raw materials, assembly lines, machine tools and services.
If we want to foster resilient value chains that are able to respond to future crises, our innovation and industrial ecosystem will need to be re-imagined to include new ways of cooperating and linking actors.
I would like to close with the following thoughts.
European industrial value chains, from automotive and aerospace to machinery and agro-food are increasingly dependent on the EU’s technology and industrial presence in core digital components, systems and software.
After the exceptionally negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, my plea to align strategies with Member States and industry for building critical mass for digital technologies is even stronger than when I addressed this community in the past.
With Horizon Europe and the Next Generation EU, the Electronic Components and Systems community, has the opportunity to demonstrate the value of its excellent scientific and technological knowledge and results for the whole of Europe.
I cannot stress enough that Europe has an opportunity to lead “the Digital Age”.
For that, we have Horizon Europe to look beyond the Horizon.
You are the ones who can help us do that.