In her State of the Union address, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen set out how Europe could emerge stronger from the coronavirus pandemic. In summary: Europe should become greener and more resilient – and get a semiconductor industry that covers the entire value chain.
Against the background of the current shortage of semiconductors, the President of the Commission is striving for a “high-class European chip ecosystem”. To this end, research, development and test capacities would have to be brought together and investments coordinated within the EU. To this end, the Commission will present a new European chip law. Von der Leyen’s announcement thus goes further than previous strategies of the EU Commission, in which alliances were mentioned.
This is not only a question of competitiveness, but also one of technological sovereignty. From smartphones and electric scooters to trains or Industry 4.0 – “no digital product without chips,” said von der Leyen.
Depends on Asia
With growing demand, entire production lines were no longer working at full speed due to the shortage of chips. In addition, Europe’s share of the entire value chain, from product design to manufacturing capacity, has decreased in this area: “We depend on high-performance chips from Asia,” said von der Leyen (PDF).
Von der Leyen believes that a separate chip ecosystem would guarantee European security of supply and open up new markets for “groundbreaking European technologies”. She compared the project with the Galilieo satellite project, which was initiated 20 years ago and then implemented. “Today, European satellites supply navigation systems for more than two billion smartphones worldwide. We are global leaders. So let’s be brave again, this time with semiconductors.”
70 percent vaccinated
Regarding the pandemic itself, von der Leyen said that over 70 percent of adults in the EU are now fully vaccinated. “We were the only ones who shared half of our vaccine production with the rest of the world. We have supplied the people in the EU with more than 700 million vaccine doses. And we have shipped a good 700 million more to the rest of the world, to over 130 countries . “
As a lesson from the pandemic, 50 billion euros are to be invested in health care throughout the EU over the next six years. No virus should ever turn a local epidemic into a global pandemic, said von der Leyen.
In view of attacks on journalists such as Daphné Caruana Galizia, Jan Kuciak. Peter de Vries announced a media freedom law from der Leyen for 2022. This is intended to protect those “who create transparency. Media companies are not just any business enterprise. Their independence is essential. That is why Europe needs a law that ensures this independence.”
Reactions from the EU Parliament
The chairman of the European People’s Party in the EU Parliament, Manfred Weber, praised the EU Commission for its work against the corona pandemic. No other continent has such high vaccination rates as the EU. “The crisis started in China, in Europe we found the solution,” he said.
The Spanish social democrat Iratxe García Pérez said she was delighted with the announcement by von der Leyens that he would be introducing a law against violence against women. “We have been demanding this law for years,” she said. In terms of foreign policy, the EU must finally speak with one voice, as the developments in Afghanistan have shown.
The Greens parliamentary group leader Philippe Lamberts called for more speed in climate protection. “If we fail, there will be no economy because the planet will no longer be habitable,” he said. Von der Leyen had announced that he would propose a further 4 billion euros to finance climate measures until 2027.
Left parliamentary group leader Martin Schirdewan called on the EU Commission to end patent protection for corona vaccines in the interest of a fairer vaccine distribution in the world. There is also a need for minimum taxation for multinational companies “that has teeth” and a financial transaction tax. It is wrong that von der Leyen demands a European military union as a lesson from the Afghanistan disaster. The money would be better off fighting poverty, said Schirdewan.