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Breton wants EU to build cutting-edge computer chips

EU industry chief Thierry Breton on Tuesday touted the European Chips Act passed last month, saying Europe must manufacture its own cutting-edge computer chips and not be relegated to a position on research or in building relatively older chips.

“With the Chips Act now agreed, we are sending a strong signal to all of you, in Europe and outside, that Europe is open for business,” he told a conference of semiconductor companies in Antwerp.

The Chips Act is Europe’s answer to similar plans to encourage the manufacture of semiconductors in the U.S. and China, as well as in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

Breton repeated goals of doubling Europe’s share in all chip manufacturing to 20% of global total, up from 10% now, though experts say the EU plan represents less support than either the U.S. or China is offering.

Breton said the plan was the model for a new generation of more assertive industrial policies including “direct support for the manufacturing base in Europe across the whole supply chain: being excellent in research is not enough. To be industrially relevant, one needs to build factories and produce in Europe”.

He also rejected the idea that Europe should only focus on existing strengths in making relatively older chips, mostly for its car industry.

“We are refusing any attempt of geographical segmentation where Europe would produce mature nodes (computer chips), while Asia and the US would produce advanced nodes,” he said.

Breton added that while the EU will work with allies, “Europe will equally defend its industrial interests and leadership when they are at stake”.

He was speaking at an event hosted by Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC), one of Europe’s top semiconductor research firms.

He noted that the Chips Act has led to new projects planned by Intel, Infineon, STMicroelectronics and Global Foundries. TSMC, which makes the world’s most advanced chips, is considering an investment in Germany. Reuters

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