By Toby Sterling
AMSTERDAM, May 20 (Reuters) – The EU is ready to commit “significant” funds to expand semiconductor production in Europe and support its supply chain for computer processors, Internal Markets Commissioner Thierry Breton said on Thursday.
After a meeting at the headquarters of industry equipment supplier ASML, Breton said that Europe should expand its capacity to make mid-tier chips before reaching the goal of doubling its share of global semiconductor production to 20% and producing the most advanced 2 nanometer chips by 2030.
In April, Reuters reported that the EU was launching an “alliance” of European semiconductor companies, including ASML, Infineon, STM and NXP to help meet those goals.
Breton said the alliance would be comparable to plans by the United States, China, and South Korea to support their domestic chipmakers, repeating that he hopes to attract one of the world’s top three chipmakers, Taiwan Semiconductor, South Korea’s Samsung or the American Intel, to build a state-of-the-art plant in Europe.
Breton said funding could come from various EU programs, including its € 800 billion ($ 975 billion) coronavirus recovery fund, of which 20% will go towards the continent’s “digital transition.”
“We are not in a position where we are dying of anxiety for them (foreign chip makers) to come, we are in a position where we want to offer them the opportunity to come, invest in our continent and improve security of supply,” he said. Breton.
“Hopefully we can move forward quickly, and when I say fast, it is a matter of months, not years.”
ASML chief Peter Wennink said it makes sense for Europe to start supporting infrastructure research and development now for industry segments that will be important in 5 years, and where European companies already have strengths, in chips for automobiles and in “cutting edge computing”.
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(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Edited in Spanish by Ricardo Figueroa)