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European Commission

Neelie Kroes

Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda

Electronics for Europe: faster, smarter, cheaper

EU's Future Strategy for Micro and Nano Electronics /Brussels

29 May 2013

To add your comment to this speech, see the social version of the speech here

Just over a year ago, I set out for electronics a vision and a request. A vision of a sector that leads the world, boosts our economy, helps our society. And a request: for us to work together better in Europe, to cooperate, align efforts and improve strengths. For the sector to connect with the markets that demand its innovations, and with the supply of skilled labour, so that your great ideas can benefit every citizen.

Since then we have come a long way. You, the European industry, came forward with a common vision which we discussed in Munich last November. And you made strong commitments: by 2020, to invest 100 billion euros and help create 250,000 jobs. That was a great early Christmas present!

You have also proposed projects for 5 major pilot lines under our Joint Undertaking, ENIAC; all together worth an estimated €730 million. Congratulations to all those involved in making this happen, including in particular Member States. Today you will see a short video on these five projects. For me, these show visibly what we can achieve, if we join forces behind a common goal.

What's really important for me is ambition and leadership: it's just as important as the details of this or that public funding programme, if not more so. I know some of the 'founding fathers' are here today: thank you for your vision and engagement. So let's build on this, and go to the next level.

That's why, just last week, the Commission put forward its new industrial strategy for European micro- and nano-electronics.

It's a strategy with a very clear goal. To reverse the declining market share of the European semiconductor industry. To double our chip production by 2020, to around one fifth of the global total, overtaking the United States. And above all to create jobs for people in Europe. I can't sit by and watch our young people face such horrific unemployment. Not when I see the sectors that could provide such powerful growth, and stimulate and create tomorrow's jobs.

The fact is we need to change. We have many strengths; but while the global competition is tough, the stakes are high; this is about every part of our economy. If we don't get our act together, any future investments risk being less effective and achieving lower impact. I don't want to see that money going down the drain. So our strategy is built around four pillars.

First, we need critical mass in our investment. We can carry on spending the money we do, but it won't have the same effect if it's uncoordinated, unaligned, sub-scale. Using every instrument at our disposal, we can assemble a significant investment in research, development and innovation: 10 billion euros over the funding period, half from governments and half from industry. Not a plan to subsidise industry: but a way to work together.

Second, we need a balanced approach for our support. Looking at further miniaturisation, at “more Moore”. This is where tomorrow's market shares lie; and we need to be part of it. But we should also look at extending functionality, doing “more than Moore”: at smart embedded systems that see, hear and act; that could be at the heart of new products and services. And let's not forget advanced manufacturing: 450 millimetre wafers will be crucial for the materials and equipment industries.

In short, there are three goals: to make chips faster, smarter, and cheaper. We need to do all three.

Third, we should focus on our strengths. We already have world-class specialised research organisations here in Europe: let's reinforce them. There is a whole value chain: let's connect and collaborate. We have unique capabilities in areas like automotive, energy and industrial automation – let's make sure they can capture the next opportunity. If the electronics sector can be in the lead, if it can drive and be driven by innovation, if others can benefit from those new ideas: then the benefits won't be for the lucky few, but for all of Europe. Of course smaller companies can't build state-of-the-art production facilities on their own. But equally, no large company can go it alone either: they all depend on extensive industrial eco-systems, built up over many years. So this strategy is about working together across the chain, along the innovation path, with all different disciplines. With stakeholders large and small, industrial and academic.

And fourth, of course we need a global level playing field. A subsidy race would just mean dead-weight losses: these days, we can't afford that. But let's not be naïve. This sector is highly inter-dependent. If some actors invest big, like in new chip production facilities, that has an impact on others in the chain. If they fail to invest, that has an impact too. So let me be clear: in the absence of common global rules, Europe needs to have, and use, all necessary instruments to ensure we can make those big investments.

So that is our strategy. But now we need to focus on the next steps.

In mid-July, we will propose an ambitious new Joint Technology Initiative on 'Electronic Components and Systems' – ECSEL for short. The proposal will be for an industry-led public-private-partnership with the EU, and with Member States playing an essential role on funding and decisions. It will cover the subject areas of the existing JTIs, ENIAC and ARTEMIS, which launch their last new projects this year. It will be simpler and more integrated. And it will be a strong instrument to deliver European public support for research, development and innovation, based on agreed European goals.

This is not more Europe for its own sake: I don't believe in that. But I do believe in more Europe when that means more value for all of us. I know today there are many here from not just industry, but from governments too. And we can only all deliver, we can only all benefit, if all of you are on board.

Because I want us to have an industrial roadmap that enjoys broad support. I want it to contain clear and concrete ideas that we can implement. And I want it in place by the end of this year.

We already have much experience. The existing JTIs and ENIAC pilot lines have shown us what we can achieve in R&D&I—if we join forces and reach critical mass. They've shown us that regions and centres of excellence can all attract more private investment if we work together. They’ve shown us the way forward, something we should repeat and build on.

So let's imagine where we want to be in 2020 – and which areas we can lead the world in. Let's agree how to get there – how to work together, how to build our skills base, how to reach out to every start-up and small business, to every economic sector and social challenge. And let's actually put it into effect. I will do what I can, for my part: and I will work to get R&D&I funding right at EU level and beyond. And I will continue to push all other stakeholders to play their part. Including you! Stakeholders from industry, regional authorities, national authorities. Your engagement here tonight is a good sign. But there is a lot more to do.

So let's go out there and do it. And I propose to meet again in a few months, once the new JTI is agreed and ready to go, to compare notes on overall progress.

Because together, we can have electronics that are faster, smarter cheaper. Electronics that are made in Europe. Electronics that deliver for all of us, and for every European citizen. Thank you.

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