The crisis in the chip market affects every continent and every level, from public institutions to private companies. All the stakeholders, each in their own way and within their own competences, are trying to react to a status quo that could continue for a long time.
The common purpose of States United States and Europe is loosening dependence on Asian markets to return to locally producing chips; so while the Biden administration and important US companies – see Intel’s detailed plan – are taking action to find alternative solutions, the European institutions are also moving to identify the way forward.
EU: A LAW TO CREATE A EUROPEAN CHIP ECOSYSTEM
In the State of the Union address , given yesterday by Ursula Von der Leyen , the issues of digital and the need to invest in European technological sovereignty are back in the limelight. The President of the Commission intervened explicitly on the problem of the crisis of semiconductors and dependence on Asia , and anticipated the future presentation of a semiconductor law . After specifying …
Let me mention, in particular, semiconductors, those tiny chips that make everything work: smartphones, electric scooters and scooters, trains or entire smart factories. There is no digital without a chip. As we speak, entire production lines are already working at reduced speeds, despite the growing demand, precisely because of the shortage of semiconductors.
But as global demand has exploded, the European share of the entire value chain, from design to production capacity , has thinned. Now we depend on the latest generation chips made in Asia, in this case it’s not just about competitiveness. It is also about technological sovereignty. Therefore, let’s give this problem all the attention it deserves.
… Ursula Von der Leyen adds some anticipation on the purposes that the new European regulatory framework will have to achieve. The objective is to arrive at a coordinated and agreed plan between all Member States, to enhance research, design, and also – a crucial aspect – that of production , to no longer suffer the negative effects of dependence on foreign markets (primarily Asian):
The aim is to jointly create a cutting-edge European chip ecosystem, including manufacturing. Thus we will ensure security of supply and develop new markets for innovative European technology.
DIFFICULT BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE GOAL: THE EXAMPLE OF GALILEO
It is not a simple goal for anyone , not even for the United States which can count on much more resources than Europe, and the European Commissioner admits it bluntly: is an extremely difficult task. And I know some consider it out of reach. Nor can one simply rely on the contribution of US companies to Europe – see the 80 billions of euros that Intel plans to invest over the next decade. But even if it is a complicated undertaking, it is not impossible.
The President of the Commission urges Member States to do it, recalling the success achieved with Galileo, the navigation system European satellite. It took 17 years to make it, plus 10 billions of euros, and the ability to overcome the many difficulties along the way. Even at the time, when the project was proposed, there were those who considered it out of reach for Europe, but the facts proved the opposite:
We rolled up our sleeves. And so, today, European satellites provide the navigation system for over 2 billion smartphones around the world. We are world leaders. So, let’s show boldness again, this time for semiconductors.