(December 10, 2008) BRUSSELS, Belgium In a pre-emptive measure to avert an increase in unemployment throughout Europe, SEMI Europe presented its white paper, What We Can Accomplish Together, during the 3rd SEMI Brussels Forum, appealing to EU and national policy makers for investment in European semiconductor industry. Citing the industry's importance to the health and global competitiveness of the EU economy, representatives of SEMI Europe warned that a decline in the European semiconductor industry could put as many as .5M European jobs at risk.
According to SEMI Europe, equipment/materials producers and semiconductor device manufacturers combined contribute approximately €29B directly to the EU economy and provide around 215,000 direct jobs. That number increases more than twofold when indirect jobs are included.
In its 2008 Competitiveness Report, European Semiconductor Association's (ESIA) credits the European semiconductor industry value chain as a significant contributor to the GDP of 11 EU countries, including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK. Additionally, it's important to note that the importance of this value chain extends beyond the industry itself to affect other European key industries such as such as energy, transportation, telecommunication, defense, aerospace, medical equipment and biotechnology. One estimate puts the semiconductor industry at the origin of 90% of innovation made in these key sectors of the European economy, according to SEMI.
"If semiconductor manufacturers leave Europe, indigenous equipment & materials producers will face an uncertain future," said Franz Richter, chairman of the SEMI European Advisory Board. "The current economic crisis and rising unemployment underscore the urgent need to safeguard jobs in the European semiconductor industry. Supporting a robust and competitive semiconductor industry in Europe is critical to keeping jobs in Europe across all industries and supporting key European economies."
In his presentation during the Forum, Heinz Kundert, president of SEMI Europe, outlined reasons to be concerned by reviewing the region's landscape for the past 2 years. Specifically, he cited reduced IC manufacturing in Europe, the trend towards fabless coupled with no plans for large fabs, relocation of manufacturing to other regions, a shift in priorities from growth to short-tem profitability, and shrinking margins due to economics and unbalanced funding and compared to other regions. "To continue prosperity of our industry and Europe, a concerted vision is needed involving the industry, the EU and national governments to keep state-of-the-art manufacturing in Europe going," said Kundert.
Enrico Villa, senior advisor to the CEO and COO, STMicroelectronics NV presented highlights of ESIA's 2008 Competitiveness Report, in which he stressed the importance of micro and nanoelectronics as drivers of innovation. There is no alternative for semiconductors in driving progress, he said. He talked about trends in the global playing field, changing paradigms, and specifically a new global landscape for the semiconductor industry. He concluded his presentation with a host of strategies and recommendations for restoring European competitiveness and keeping the Semiconductor food chain alive. He said Europe needs to prioritize European-wide micro-/nanoelectronics R&D in framework programs and public-private partnerships, Stimulate 'market pull' across Europe in chosen lead markets, launch a strategic European industry plan that aims at revitalizing semiconductor manufacturing capabilities in Europe, and make micro- and nanoelectronics in education an objective for filling the European talent pipeline.
The Forum attracted 100 executives from the industry to show their support, as well as representatives from national governments, R&D and universities, clusters and other associations. 16 countries were represented including Russia, Israel and UAE.
During the course of the Forum, SEMI representatives met with Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media to impress upon her the need to support a more competitive European semiconductor industry. SEMI representatives also met with: Andreas Schwartz, Member of the Cabinet of Commission Vice President Verheugen, Jean-Noël Durvy, Director, and Costas Andropoulos, Head of Unit, all DG Enterprise and Industry; Mirjam Söderholm, Deputy Head of Unit DG Internal Market; Luc Devigne DG Trade; MEP Louis Grech (Malta).