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Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda
Electronics for Europe
Press Conference on launch of European strategy for micro- and nano-electronic components and systems /Brussels
23 May 2013
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Today we launch a new industrial strategy for electronics.
These days every other sector depends on electronics.
If our electronics sector is not competitive, then every other sector suffers, and our entire manufacturing base is at risk.
So overall our goals are simple. We must attract higher investment, and collaborate across borders.
This will give the sector critical mass, and allow it to play the role of supporting new jobs and new economic growth across the whole economy.
I want an investment that matches the size of the challenge. Together, the Commission, Member States and regions, should be able to channel more than €5 billion into research, development and innovation in the field over the next seven years. This will be in support of "One" agenda for leadership for Europe, established by industry and the academic community. This is what will attract not only a similar amount of investment in research and innovation by industry but also the €100 billion that industry has committed to invest in Europe if we are able to get our act together.
We've all seen the benefits of advancing electronics. You've probably got a good example in your pocket. The European semiconductor sector alone employs a quarter of a million people: worldwide, it's worth €230 billion. It's been consistently growing at 5% per year throughout the crisis. The niches Europe is good at – they are growing at sometimes 13% per year. What other sector can say that?
So Europe must take its chances and reinforce its role in the sector.
We can do it by creating whole new lines of business: as ever more functions fit onto a chip, embedded into ever more systems, we open up ever more innovative opportunities.
This isn't about computers – I can't stress that enough.
From communications to healthcare, energy to transport, every sector of our economy, every challenge of our society, can use and benefit from electronic innovations.
And let's be honest, right now, every sector needs that boost.
In fact, the impact of micro- and nano-electronics is estimated at around 10% of the world's GDP.
In many ways Europe performs well here. After 15 years of policy effort and private investment we have world-class European clusters. Dresden in Germany, Leuven-Eindhoven in Belgium and The Netherlands, and Grenoble in France.
So we are highlighting and funding that excellence. We should not be spreading the money across every institution and researcher. Instead we are making real choices to channel taxpayers' money where it will be most effective.
Being effective also means collaborating across borders. If we work in our own little national systems European production will stay below 10% of the world total, and decline.
I don't accept that. We can produce closer to 20% of global production – more than the amount that takes place on United States soil in fact. But only if we get our act together by implementing this strategy.
If we don't take this opportunity, if we don't connect our strongholds, then others will leapfrog us.
So we need this public investment - we need it to be rapid, strategic and coordinated.
I will expect great things from the industry; they will have to build on this investment to take the sector to new heights. They will have to find ways to repeat the success of Airbus, but this time in the chip sector, and with its own unique business model.
As shown by the launch in 2012 of the first pilot lines for production in the ENIAC joint undertaking, a new Joint Technology Initiative with Member States and industry can provide us with unique means to make the strategy happen. It will be a key pillar of our strategy. It will cover the whole innovation chain from technology development to pilot lines preparing for mass production and rapid market uptake.
The Joint Technology Initiative will not be sufficient though. We should be also helping industry find new financing streams like loans and equities through the EIB, for example. We should also adapt and make the best use of frameworks from state aid to public procurement. And ensure a highly skilled workforce.
With that, we'll be making electronics work for Europe, for our economy, and for our people.