Building a competitive and resilient Europe

Semiconductors will be crucial to Europe's future growth, and Intel is ready to lead the charge

By Riccardo Masucci

Riccardo Masucci is Managing Director, Head of Brussels Office at Intel

01 Jul 2024

A new Parliamentary term brings a fresh opportunity to build a stronger, more resilient, sustainable and competitive EU. Europe's economic foundation relies heavily on semiconductors, which are essential building blocks for industry, the digital economy, and technologies enabling a green transition. Semiconductors are all around us, and they continue to improve the lives of European citizens every day. At Intel, we are proud to contribute to the EU‘s future by planning to invest more than € 50 billion in this decade alone to create the EU‘s first leading-edge, end-to-end semiconductor manufacturing value chain.

Building resilience and driving innovation

For over 30 years and counting, Intel has created thousands of high-quality jobs, working with local partners and suppliers, investing in R&D, and supporting education programmes in Europe. Our current manufacturing site in Ireland constitutes one of the largest and most advanced semiconductor facilities in Europe, with Intel Ireland employing more than 4,900 people. To date, Intel has announced or completed more than € 50 billion in investments in the EU, beginning with the expansion of our site in Ireland, and new planned investments in Poland and Germany.  These projects will serve as a catalyst for ecosystem investments, innovation, and job creation across the EU.

With the EU Chips Act, a landmark piece of legislation to strengthen Europe's semiconductor ecosystem, the EU aims to double its global market share in semiconductor manufacturing capacity to at least 20% by 2030. By strengthening both front-end and back-end manufacturing capacity, Intel will massively contribute to reaching this goal, increasing the EU’s semiconductor supply chain resilience, technology leadership, and share of global chip production.

But more work is needed to achieve these ambitious results and strengthen Europe's tech sector. We have pinpointed four key priorities for the EU to focus on in the upcoming five years: enhancing competitiveness, encouraging sustainable and responsible growth, nurturing innovation for a dynamic tech landscape, and advancing global cooperation. Our whitepaper, ‘Policy Actions for a Competitive and Resilient Europe’ details actionable recommendations for these priorities.

They all point to an overarching goal: creating a predictable and secure business environment that spurs innovation, decarbonises industries, creates jobs, and attracts investment.

Boosting European Competitiveness

Europe needs to enhance its economic clout and achieve economic security by optimising its business environment, simplifying slow bureaucratic procedures, and overhauling labour markets to close existing gaps. Priority focus areas should be:

  1. Controlling industrial expenses (in particular the volatility of energy prices);
  2. developing a skilled workforce for the future (through a talent pipeline of manufacturing technicians and upskilling/reskilling programs), and
  3. ensuring consistency across EU regulations.

These actions are crucial for a more efficient single market to elevate European competitiveness. It is encouraging to see the EU’s increased focus on these critical areas, underlined by the work of Enrico Letta and Mario Draghi, as bolstering competitiveness is key to improving economic security.

Driving sustainable and responsible growth

The EU Green Deal charts a bold course for the EU's climate neutrality by 2050, and Intel pledges to hit net-zero GHG emissions by 2040. We're convinced that technology is pivotal in achieving the ambitions of the green and digital transitions, as reflected in our RISE strategy and goals[1]. Sustainability is integral to Intel's core values and a critical element of our business planning.

Yet, the regulatory environment is becoming overly complex and disjointed – slowing down new investment and making Europe less attractive for doing business. Insufficient regulatory review and limited scope in impact assessments intensify this challenge. The EU must prioritise the effective application of its Green Deal laws, both existing and forthcoming, before launching new proposals.

Fosteringinnovation for a vibrant EU tech ecosystem

The European Union is confronting a pivotal issue: inadequate investment in research and development is stifling innovation and hindering sustainable economic growth, compromising the EU’s global competitiveness. To maintain leadership and autonomy in advanced technologies such as quantum computing, the EU needs to prioritise and boost investment in innovation. A significant budget increase to enhance research and development is essential for the EU to be at the forefront of tomorrow's technology. Developing a stronger European Venture Capital Market would allow faster financing of EU startups and scaleups.

In the meantime, we are witnessing enormous progress in developing artificial intelligence. By engineering platforms tailor-made for AI, embracing an open ecosystem and standards, and prioritising responsible and confidential AI, Intel is bringing AI everywhere, for everyone.

The EU’s landmark AI regulation sets a global precedent for regulating the development and use of AI. However, the dynamic nature of the AI industry presents several challenges to the implementation of the AI Act. Hence, it is crucial that the new EU AI Office and national authorities are well-resourced and staffed with knowledgeable and skilled personnel to ensure the AI Act's seamless and consistent enforcement. The EU must engage actively in global discussions on AI governance, aligning the AI Act's implementation with internationally recognised standards.

Promoting global collaboration

The EU has consistently set global standards, especially in new industries. Amid geopolitical conflict and rising protectionism, it stands out as a champion of multilateralism and international cooperation. Europe's commitment to openness has been key to its success, spurring innovation, cultivating talent, and drawing investments. The semiconductor sector exemplifies this, relying on global cooperation for its supply chains to thrive.

To stay competitive, Europe must fortify the transatlantic alliance through aligned industrial policies. Additionally, Europe needs to establish a unified EU stance on export controls (especially for critical technologies), and a balanced method for managing foreign and outbound investments.

New cycle, new opportunities

As the EU enters a fresh legislative phase, it presents a chance to craft policies that will propel Europe's competitive edge. By creating a conducive business climate, fostering international alliances, and cultivating efficient public-private collaborations, Europe can establish a solid green industrial framework as the bedrock for enduring sustainable development. The pillars of competitiveness will be the digital and green sectors, with significant job creation and investments stemming from the semiconductor industry. Achieving a smart policy mix is a considerable challenge, but Intel is prepared to support Europe on its journey toward this goal.

Find out more in Intel's whitepaper 'Policy Actions for a Competitive and Resilient Europe' here

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This article was produced in partnership with Intel.