Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda
“Electronics: Europe is open for business”
Launch electronics PPP – ECSEL
Brussels, 30 June 2014
Today you’ve heard about experts outlining their proposals, projects, predictions. A vision for the future innovations enabled by electronics, in virtually every sector. And a vision for how to ensure continuing European leadership.
I know that big changes are going to happen. And I know that they matter to our future.
Today our growth comes from innovation; and most innovation comes from digital technology. And underpinning virtually all of it are some kind of chips or systems based on them. Ever smaller, ever faster, ever more creatively used and embedded.
Few people understand how they work. How widespread they are. How much effort and ingenuity goes into them.
But from your home to your hospital, your car to your pocket, few of us today could imagine living without the innovations they enable.
And whatever the challenge you’re trying to fix – whether it’s giving industry a productivity boost, or fixing climate change – chances are there’ll be a chip involved somewhere.
Those innovations aren’t going to come from people like me. They are going to come from people like you. But I am determined to ensure the right environment where you can invest and work together. So that you can deliver the innovations that guarantee our prosperity and strength.
Your innovations have spill-overs beyond any one sector. Benefits beyond any one border: Skilled jobs, skilled workers, university links, ecosystems of suppliers large and small. Plus upstream and downstream industrial activity.
And for that very reason, we need to work together.
We are talking about a global game: success needs scale.
Only by working together we can achieve the scale that is needed.
Countries and regions working together as the EU.
Public and private sectors working in partnership.
And different parts of the value chain working together too. From those producing to those demanding. Those training workers to those needing their skills. By working together across that value chain, there is so much opportunity.
Take the automotive sector – where Europe continues to be strong. Yet today, a new car virtually is just a large collection of computers on wheels.
And that’s just one example. Pretty much any kind of innovative product or service of any kind relies on chips. Work together with them and we all benefit.
Working together has long been our philosophy in the EU.
That is why, 7 years ago, we set up 2 Joint Undertakings, ENIAC and ARTEMIS, which now come together in one, ECSEL, on electronic components and systems. A partnership where dialogue really happens. So industry can share the risks of developing new technologies. So the public sector can best ensure they benefit society.
This is not just a patchwork, or an umbrella for existing programmes. Rather: by bridging communities, bringing them together we drive a new dynamic.
Because these days, it’s not just about who has the best components, or the best software. It’s about how you integrate and use them. Combining and collaborating is the only way to stay competitive.
I hope ECSEL – which we launch today – will be a shining example. I also hope to see new pilot lines and large projects. You can read the first call for proposals online now and you can start proposing your projects from next week, 9 July.
Those pilot lines are important. In a sector like electronics, public support creates a critical mass that can close the gap between production and markets. And public authorities are taking this seriously: at all levels, EU, national and regional. They have high expectations. For what innovations can happen. For how that will build growth and create jobs. Now your responsibility is clear: I am sure you can meet those expectations.
But even so, this is just an intermediate step. I want to see our best technologies make it to the market. And that’s why we have a whole new concept – Important Projects of Common European Interest.A new way to make it easier to target public funding at highly innovative projects. Projects that can generate spill-overs and support the whole economy.
I look forward to seeing the first strong proposals very soon. And I hope to see, in these proposals, the same level of intense cross-border cooperation that ECSEL is all about. We can move fast in Europe! I am encouraged by the commitments of the Member States to ECSEL. So far, 26 out 28 Member States will financially contribute to ECSEL. And some regions will also put money on the table.
Let’s not fragment ECSEL’s firepower by treating it as a cash cow to fund everyone’s pet project, let’s use it as an essential resource to do together what needs to be done for Europe.
Just 9 months ago, we set up an Electronics Leaders Group. To bring together some of our most significant companies, and our world-leading research centers. But involving also successful SMEs and midcaps. To figure out a way forward. Not just to reverse declining chip production in Europe: but to double the economic value of electronic components and systems.
Now as you have heard they have delivered their plans. Balancing demand and supply; long and short term actions; private and public.
You propose an impressive level of investment. With public and private funding in trailblazer projects topping one billion. With billions for reference zones and competence centres. Structuring and strengthening the base for industry to innovate. For real ideas that can succeed on real markets. Not just to boost the value of the components we make – but ensuring they are embedded and used. And supporting small, innovative businesses in doing that. Again – all areas where public support can be leveraged and maximised by private investment.
And with that industry determination. With that public support. With those projects of common European interest – we have what it takes for Europe to compete and keep up.
We have done our part. Gathering resources, adapting rules. All together around 30 to 40 Billion euros could be mobilised. Let me repeat that: the amounts that could be mobilised by a serious industrial project through the leveraging of multiple sources of funding which investors can access with their investment plans put Europe on a par with competing regions worldwide. So the door is open, we just need the bold entrepreneurs to step through them – to their benefit and to the benefit of all of us. I believe we made significant steps, it is now up to us, to you and your current and future peers globally, to make it happen.
We stand ready to work together to make us the lead market for innovation, the most attractive place to invest in the world.
But this is not a given – it is an opportunity waiting to be captured. An opportunity only available to those ready to commit to invest in Europe.
Now the industry needs to take up that incentive. Come up with the projects. Implement. Deliver.
This plan is ongoing. It will have to be implemented and delivered, monitored and adjusted.
For my part I will start monitoring tomorrow. I am thinking about the best way to do this, people who can help me set this on a strong footing. Your ideas continue to be welcome.
I hope my successor will do the same. This is too important a sector to turn our backs on; too pervasive a change to ignore.
It is about taking our strengths, finding the synergies, and sharing a strategy.
It is about making society more receptive to technology, willing to embrace, enable and explore.
It is about an economy able to benefit from new innovations everywhere you look.
The digital agenda is not for the lucky few – it is about the future of our continent.
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