Seeking ‘driver’s seat’ for the EU, Breton to meet with chipmaker executives
European industry chief Thierry Breton will hold talks on April 30 with the managing director of chipmaker Intel (INTC.O) and a senior executive at Taiwanese competitor TMSC, as the EU seeks protection from shocks in the global supply chain.
Breton will meet Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger in Brussels next Friday and will also hold a video conference with Maria Marced, president of TMSC Europe (2330.TW), on the same day, the EU commissioner said.
“Increasing our autonomy does not mean isolating ourselves in a world where supply chains are global,” Breton told Reuters.
“Along with exploring how we can increase Europe’s capacity … we will continue to build bridges with international partners – but with us in the driver’s seat,” he added, confirming the meetings .
Breton seeks to persuade a leading chipmaker to set up a major manufacturing plant in the EU that would help achieve the Commission’s strategic goal of securing the most advanced chip production technology in the next decade.
The ambition, contained in the Commission’s Digital Compass strategy, is to double Europe’s share in global semiconductor production to 20% and to produce the most advanced 2-nanometer chips by 2030.
Breton’s push for technological ‘sovereignty’ comes as increased demand for everything from consumer electronics to cars has disrupted global supply chains and exposed the continent’s reliance on chips made in Asia.
Gelsinger, new to the role, announced plans to build a “ factory ” in Europe as part of a reset strategy in which Intel would launch a foundry – or contract manufacturing – division and invest billion in new production capacity.
Yet, according to sources in Brussels, Breton is more inclined to enlist TSMC, which is widely regarded as the undisputed leader in the industry and has a better command of the most advanced manufacturing processes. TSMC declined to comment.
Analysts warn that setting up a major factory in Europe could prove to be a strategic mistake as the continent – which neither manufactures high-end electronics nor has a modern chip design industry – does not there is no viable market.
Local chipmakers such as Infineon (IFXGn.DE), STM (STM.BN) and NXP (NXPI.O) abandoned their aspirations to stay at the forefront years ago and are now niche players themselves. focusing on segments such as automotive.
Yet as Breton considers a major investment, speculation is circulating about the location of a future “ eurofab ”, with his native France, the German cluster of Dresden and neighboring Poland being mentioned as potential locations.
Gelsinger is also expected to visit Germany when he visits Europe next week, Politico said, as quoted by an Intel official.
A Munich-based Intel spokesperson did not confirm this and the German Economics Ministry declined to comment, saying it had not confirmed or refused the meetings on principle.
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