The EU Chips Act needs to create a competitive microelectronics ecosystem based on market demand
Joint press release
The current semiconductor supply shortages are affecting numerous European companies across all industries.
A new semiconductor strategy paper by ZVEI – the German Electro and Digital Industry Association and a member of DIGITALEUROPE – shows that policy action must now focus on securing supply for all size range of microchips to support key sectors of the economy like manufacturing, consumer electronics and healthcare.
Besides public funding, Europe also needs a favourable business environment to build a thriving microelectronics ecosystem.
The EU should expand production capacity after careful analysis driven by market demand, not just political imperatives.
Industry needs both chips of larger sizes as well smaller ones. This will also be the case decades from now. “Leading edge innovation” or “beyond state-of-the-art innovation” is not only about transistor size. It can also refer to new production processes, materials, equipment, or other innovations along the whole value chain.
The EU is way behind on public funding, but this is just one aspect. The announced EU Chips Act must also include creating a more favourable environment for investments, like tax incentives, construction permits and boosting skills.
The new European Semiconductor Alliance is the most promising group to work on this. It must bring together designers, producers and users of chips, together with industry stakeholders and EU Member states, to align on clear KPIs and a clear timeline.
The semiconductor market is by nature global and will remain so. We must use fora like the EU-US Trade and Technology Council to improve global supply chains.
Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, Director-General of DIGITALEUROPE, said:
“A huge range of products from games consoles to medical devices and cars rely on a stable supply of semiconductors. The current shortage is a huge issue, and businesses and consumers are starting to feel the pinch.
The proposed EU Chips Act must listen to industry to see what the needs are, and not just be driven by politics. We of course need more funding, but the right way to make Europe a global semiconductor hub is to create a supportive business environment through incentives and skills.”
Wolfgang Weber, CEO of ZVEI, the Electro and Digital Industry Association, said:
“Semiconductors are the backbone of Europe’s digital and green twin transition and of high relevance for every industrial sector in Europe, from automotive to machinery, from start-ups to global enterprises.
We need to expand production capacity for chips of all structure sizes, in line with market dynamics. In the coming decades, Europe’s downstream industries will need both high-performance processors in smaller structure sizes and power electronics, sensors, or microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) in more mature structure sizes. The demand for power semiconductors alone will triple by 2030.”
The European Commission recently announced an European Chips Act and Commissioner Thierry Breton declared the EU’s ambition in increasing capacity of semiconductors in the range of 5 nanometers (nm) and below.
This strategy is aimed at tackling a decline in Europe’s share of global semiconductor production from 22% in 1998 to 8% today, while other regions in the world have gradually introduced a more favourable business climate.
The sum of EU governments’ semiconductor incentives foreseen from 2020 to 2030 is just a tiny fraction of what respectively China and the US have promised over the same time.
DIGITALEUROPE is the leading trade association representing digitally transforming industries in Europe. Our membership represents over 35,000 businesses who operate and invest in Europe. It includes 91 corporations which are global leaders in their field of activity, as well as 39 national trade associations from across Europe. DIGITALEUROPE represents both companies active in the microelectronics value chain as well as downstream sectors such as consumer goods, digital, health and manufacturing industries.
About ZVEI: Electro and Digital Industry Association
The ZVEI promotes the industry’s joint economic, technological and environmental policy interests on a national, European and global level. The industry has round about 866,000 employees in Germany plus 7770,000 employees all over the world. In 2020 the turnover was Euro 182 billion. The electro and digital industry is the most innovative industry sector in Germany. One-third of the industry´s sales are based on new products. The industry spends Euro 20 billion in R&D every year and more than Euro 6 billion in investments. Every third innovation in Germany´s manufacturing sector stems from solutions of this industry.