If globalization has disseminated the production of electronic chips in Asia and more generally in countries where labor is inexpensive, current geopolitical tensions have shown the importance of an effort to relocate the means of production in Europe, even expensive.
Confronted with its weak situation, the European Union set up a project to relaunch the local production of electronic components and gave him an envelope of 45 billion euros the amount of which has just been validated by the 27 Member States.
The amended text was accepted unanimously and should enable Europe to count for 20% of global chip production by 2030whereas it had fallen to 8% in recent years.
The confinements linked to the pandemic and the severe shortage of electronic components have hit certain sectors hard, including the automotive sector, which is important in Europe.
Furthermore, the rise in geopolitical tensions has highlighted the risk that supplies could be interrupted in the event of an escalation or volumes reduced to satisfy priority customers (China and the United States), leaving Europe on the sidelines.
Return of sovereignty in chips
The importance of a certain sovereignty in the production of components has once again become a priority, in parallel with efforts to develop european design chipslike the ranges of modular ARM processors under development at SiPearlso as not to always lag behind great innovations.
Compared to the initial project, the European text provides for an expansion of the scope of investment to certain categories of chips not necessarily among the most advanced or the finest.
Alongside mobile processors engraved in 3 nm and components using the latest technologies, there is a whole universe of chips necessary for the industry which do not need very sophisticated engraving techniques but which must be able to be available in volume. and at low cost.
In addition, advanced technologies in terms of fine engraving are played out in Asia and there is little chance that players such as TSMC or Samsung will agree to move the best of their technology to Europe.
A text that can still fall apart
The Chips Law European wants to cover the areas of computing power, energy efficiency, environmental benefit and artificial intelligence.
If the amount of the investment envelope is validated, the means to top it up, from unused funds in other European projects and research projects, is the subject of criticism.
Some are also concerned about a preferential distribution of these funds to countries that already have production facilities or that will seek to attract chip producers through public subsidies, benefiting only the richest countries and amplifying the imbalance between rich and poor countries of the Union, indicates the agency Reuters.