Currently, 17 member states have agreed to a joint initiative to “reinforce the processor and semiconductor ecosystem and to expand industrial presence across the supply chain”
Speaking at a videoconference of the Ministers of Telecommunications this morning, a number of EU member states have signed a joint declaration to combine their efforts in developing the European processor and semiconductor industry.
The commitment seeks to encourage combined research and investment in the technology’s value chain, leveraging funds from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility where possible. According to the statement, this could be up to €145 billion over the next two to three years.
The move comes at a time of upheaval for the global semiconductor industry. Geopolitical tensions between China and the US, particularly aimed at the likes of Huawei and ZTE, have resulted in major sanctions on the Chinese chip-making industry. As a result, the Chinese government is working hard to rapidly scale up the industry, hoping to achieve self-reliance in the next few years.
But this movement is not isolated to just the US and China. Indeed, part of this move by the EU is driven by the desire for self-sufficiency in such key technologies.
“A new geopolitical, industrial and technological reality is redefining the playing field. In what has long been a global business, major regions are reinforcing their local semiconductor ecosystems with a view to avoiding excessive dependencies on imports,” read the joint declaration.
The declaration notes the arrival of 5G and looks towards the future and 6G, where the semiconductor and processor industries will have a larger role than ever. This particularly highlights the economic disparity between these European industries when compared to those of the US, for example.
“European chipmakers enjoy a strong global presence in vertical markets such as embedded systems for automotive and industrial manufacturing. Europe also has a strong technological position in mobile networks including current 5G and emerging 6G technologies. However, Europe’s share of the 440 B€ global semiconductor market is around 10%, well below its economic standing,” it reads.
Naturally, the declaration also commits the European nations to working together towards unified standards and, interestingly, certification for trusted electronics.
“Europe has all it takes to diversify and reduce critical dependencies, while remaining open. We will therefore need to set ambitious plans, from design of chips to advanced manufacturing progressing towards 2nm nodes, with the aim of differentiating and leading on our most important value chains,” explained internal market commissioner Thierry Breton. “Today’s highly welcomed joint effort is an important leap forward – it will pave the way to the launch of an industrial alliance. A collective approach can help us leverage our existing strengths and embrace new opportunities as advanced processor chips play an ever more important role for Europe’s industrial strategy and digital sovereignty.”