EU billions to combat microchip shortages

The EU plans to invest more than 40 billion euros to resolve supply problems on the microchip market: the European Chips Act aims to promote production and research in Europe and thus reduce the continent's dependence on markets in Asia and the US. It is one of the bloc's most important industrial projects in many years, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton stressed. Europe's press examines the pros and the cons.

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Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

A lot more funding needed

The EU should free up more funds in a hurry, the Frankfurter Rundschau admonishes:

“Very soon, access to semiconductor technology will be the key factor in the competition between the big economic blocs. It took the current supply crisis to shake the EU Commission out of its deep slumber. ... Now Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton is aiming to catch up. ... But [that won't be possible] with the sums Breton is allocating as funding. He has announced plans to invest around 30 billion euros in the construction of chip factories by 2030 [plus around 10 billion for chip research and development]. Meanwhile the Chinese government is pouring the equivalent of 150 billion euros into the sector. There is therefore only one thing the Commission and governments can do: loosen up a lot more money.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Europe's weakness

The announced funding could become a source of discord, predicts La Stampa:

“The measures presented yesterday by the Commission foresee above all a radical change in state funding policy to address the main weakness, namely the lack of production centres. The new strategy will allow governments to attract the sector's leading companies with massive injections of public funding (over 30 billion euros), just as their American and Chinese competitors do. But with one difference: Europe is made up of 27 countries and there is a risk of rivalry between EU member states.”

De Tijd (BE) /

EU can't be the only one to play by the rules

De Tijd praises the Chips Act, even if it means that the ban on subsidies for entire companies will be violated:

“In recent months it has become painfully clear that Europe is dependent on American and in particular Asian suppliers for semiconductors. Production at certain car factories came to a temporary standstill due to semiconductor shortages. ... Not everyone plays the game by the rules, as Europe would like them to. The economy and international trade are a power game between the major blocs. If Europe always sticks to the rules in this rough world, the others will leave it with nothing. It's time for Europe to wake up to this and become more self-assertive.”

Les Echos (FR) /

Joint effort needed to become indispensable

In addition to massive investments the EU must also take a strategic approach, business paper Les Echos stresses:

“We have to choose our priorities and become the best in a few strategic niches. Just as the Dutch company ASML has made itself indispensable as a supplier for the semiconductor industry, we can try to build a network of key suppliers like ST Micro, NXP, Infineon, Soitec and others: an ecosystem of indispensable suppliers for the automotive industry, engineering or the ecological transition. And although the dream of a European 'semiconductor Airbus' seems out of reach, we must have the courage to overcome divisive nationalism and select and nurture a handful of European champions.”