Semiconductors are at the center of geopolitics. European Commissioner Theory Breton wants to support Europe through the Chips Act to double chips production by 2030. The grant structure should help to compete globally.
Theory of the European Commissioner for the Domestic Market Theory Breton did not hide his admiration for imec. The Louvain Research Center for Semiconductors looks like the queen on the geopolitical chessboard of a former French technology boss. “All chip makers on the planet have important research and development plans with imec.”
Breton wants to double European chip production by 2030. The announcement of the European mega-factory to manufacture chips in association with the American Intel is ‘a few days’.
But the rest of the world is not sitting still. On Friday, Japan allocated 6 billion euros in grants for research and production of new generation chips. The United States subsidizes chip investors to the tune of 52 52 billion. Korean Samsung has announced a multi-billion dollar investment in Texas.
Are you late with the chip frame?
Theory Breton: ‘Before the Govt crisis and the chip shortage, I argued for increasing the production of semiconductors in Europe. We know that global chip demand will double from $ 500 billion to $ 1,000 billion. Small chips ranging from 5 to 2 nanometers are made in Asia. Companies that come up with innovative technology require large investments. We welcome a wide range of investors to Europe. We provide the same support for amazing chip technology like USA and Japan. European chips law paves the way for us. ‘
Europe is at the top of the world, with the Belgian Imek, the Italian Letty and the German Franhofer. It gives us a power. We can put pressure.
Do you want to distribute subsidies for the production of chips required by the industry today?
Breton: ‘Like other countries in the world, we want to be competitive in our grants. Technological advances are important. Our competition rules allow for support for that amazing technology. But in the meantime, there are specific requirements for our industry. We will implement Section 107.3 of the European Agreements on Chips Act, which allows for greater flexibility of competition rules to improve specific industrial requirements.
We will also set up and integrate a platform for semiconductor research and development. There will be specific projects and support for the ecosystem of the large and small companies involved. ‘
You have been arguing for some time for European autonomy for chip production. Is it realistic?
Breton: ‘The geopolitics of semiconductors is not protectionism or doing everything yourself. We need to find a good balance between our strengths and weaknesses. Europe and the United States each produce 10 percent of the chips. 80 percent happens in Asia, half of which is in Taiwan. The question is: can we catch up quickly? How much do we do in Europe and what do we outsource to Asia? For geopolitical reasons, it is best not to keep all the eggs in one basket. ‘
‘Europe is at the forefront of research and development in Europe, along with the Belgian Imek, the Italian Letty and the German Franhofer. It gives us a power. We can put pressure. During the Corona crisis, we introduced export controls on vaccines. This will allow the debate on vaccines to resume with the United States. That is autonomy. ‘
So are you learning from the vaccine crisis?
Breton: ‘We became the world’s pharmacy in a single year. No one has the experience or ability to produce the first two vaccines approved in Europe. We went from 0 to 300 million doses per month in a year. This is what you do in wartime. We are going to increase production slightly by 4 billion per year. The world’s leading vaccine coverage and the largest vaccine exporter to 51 countries.
What about other supply chains facing problems?
Breton: ‘We look at a dozen important supply chains and look for diversification. Batteries contain many more rare elements, such as lithium from China. Our European companies are competing in Chinese battery production. When I inquired in China about reopening our production, we were told that everything produced in China is subject to the Chinese market. ‘
A company that does not comply with European rules may be fined, temporarily barred from operating and, if not stopped, broken.
On Thursday, EU industry ministers approved your European rules and restrictions on key online platforms and your obligations to digital service providers.
Breton: “This is one of the most important decisions for the domestic market and the EU in many years. New rules for big technology may come into force in 2022. It is fast becoming European standards. The United States and Japan are interested in what we are doing. They are always talking in our conversations about whether big technology companies should be broken. It will not work for us, but we want to organize our European digital space economically and socially, which requires good legislation and strong sanctions. .
The technical lobby was remarkably silent about the law.
Breton: ‘Google’s internal document on how Commissioner Bretton should be sent back to work is spreading fast’ (Laughter). I talked to technology companies from the beginning and asked them not to spend money on lobbies, but to come directly to me. But my job is to write the law for European citizens, not for companies that benefit from our market. ‘
Finally: Do you see nuclear energy as a source of green energy?
Breton: ‘Europe needs to double power generation in the next thirty years. We need a lot of electricity to get the car industry out of carbon. Nuclear power accounts for 26 percent of our energy production. It is clear to me that we can not be climate neutral without nuclear power. ‘
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