Speech by President von der Leyen at the EU Industry Days 2022

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

all across the globe, the label “made in Europe” is a symbol for the top quality of your products. And you, Europe´s entrepreneurs, can be rightly proud of this. But “made in Europe” means so much more than reliable products.

“Made in Europe” means that a product comes from a place where we protect the environment and where workers earn a decent wage. It means that it comes from a continent that has embarked on the modernisation of its economy and society, towards a more sustainable way of living and working.

In building this new European growth model, industry is our indispensable ally. And I am delighted to share some thoughts with you at this years´s Industry Days on how industry and the European Commission can complement each other to unlock our green and digital future.

Just two days ago we presented a crucial piece of this agenda, Europe’s first-ever Chips Act. Semiconductors have become front-page news in these months, when the global chip shortage has slowed down the global recovery. Factories closed in East Asia and entire production lines here in Europe came to a standstill. However, Europe’s global semiconductors market share is only 10% today. And most of our supplies come from a handful of producers outside Europe. We simply cannot afford this dependency and uncertainty any longer. This is why by 2030, 20% of the world’s microchips production should be in Europe. That’s twice as much as today, in a market that is set to double in the next decade. So it means quadrupling today’s European production.

Allow for a moment to reverse our point of view. Instead of focusing on what we do not have, let me focus on Europe’s strengths in the field of semiconductors. Europe is the world’s centre for semiconductor research. And Europe is strong in some specific areas, such as chips for cars and for Industry 4.0. There are crucial niches where Europe is a global leader. But I want us to become a strong player all across the chips value chain.

The European Chips Act will back this ambition with considerable investment. It will enable more than 12 billion euros in additional public and private investment by 2030. And this will come on top of more than 30 billion euros of public investments already foreseen, backed by NextGenerationEU, our recovery programme, Horizon Europe as well as national budgets. To put numbers into perspective, European companies in the semiconductors field are now investing roughly 6 billion euros per year. The European Chips Act can be a game changer.

Our work will focus in particular on five areas.

First, on research. We will invest in a field where we are already punching above our weight, focusing for instance on transistors below 3 nanometres and on disruptive technologies for artificial intelligence. Thus on research, Europe can go from strength to strength.

Second, from the lab to the fab. We must translate our excellence in research into industrial innovation. We will invest in chips design and in pilot lines for prototypes, bridging the gap between the laboratory and the actual manufacturing of the most innovative chips.

Third, on production capacity. Europe needs new advanced production facilities. These facilities come with huge up-front costs. Therefore, public support can be necessary to attract private investment. For this reason, we are adapting our state aid rules, under a set of strict conditions. This will allow for the first time – public support for European “first of a kind” production facilities, which benefit all of Europe.

Fourth, this is not just about mega fabs. The European Chips Act will also support smaller, innovative companies, in accessing advanced skills, industrial partners and equity finance.

And finally, on supply chains. Europe will always work to keep global markets open and connected. But we need to tackle the bottlenecks that slow down our growth. We can create more balanced interdependencies and build supply chains that we can truly trust. We will work on semiconductor partnerships with like-minded partners, from the US to Japan. This is in the world’s interest and in our own.

This is of course equally true with respect to our green transition. Europe is the most ambitious continent in the world when it comes to the path to a net-zero future. We want to be the first climate neutral continent by 2050. And for this we will reduce CO2 emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030. Here also, industry is our close partner. Because Europe’s entrepreneurs seized the opportunities of innovative and clean technology much earlier than others. Just look at the large number of patents in the field of climate and energy. They are a striking proof of this pioneering role. Europe is there to nurture and support this commitment in the best possible way. Let me illustrate this with three recent examples.

Firstly, Europe helps with ideas. This conference and its main topic are a case in point. In the last two days you have discussed how the construction sector can overcome shortages of wood and other materials, for example by recycling materials or using them more efficiently. You spoke about how European carmakers will profit from our European batteries alliance. Because sustainable batteries “made in Europe” are a long-awaited alternative to imports from Asia. And you discussed what Europe can do to support energy intensive industry to overcome the recent price hike a topic I will shortly come back to in more detail.

Your discussions show that the question is not anymore whether Europe should become carbon neutral by 2050. The question is how to get there most efficiently.

Of course the EU Industry Days are an excellent opportunity to drive this debate forward. And I call on industry to bring in its expertise even more when we finalise the transitions pathways together – the roadmaps for different industrial domains.

Europe also supports industry´s transition with a level of investment never before seen on this scale. This is my second point. Just look at NextGenerationEU, our 800 billion euro recovery programme. With NextGenerationEU, we are investing in our sustainable and digital future like never before. And we are tackling the structural challenges of our economies. Be it electric cars, green hydrogen or a European renovation wave that will make our homes and offices more climate friendly and our heating cheaper – 450 million Europeans are demanding these changes. And I do not have to tell you how much Europe´s industry can profit from that.

Europe will be at your side in turbulent times. This is my final point. Of course I am speaking about the current rise of gas prices. Europe imports 90 percent of its gas. And demand is rising across the world, first of all because of the global recovery. But current geopolitical tensions come at a price, too. We import more than 40 percent of our gas from Russia. And apparently Russia has no interest in increasing supplies right now, despite peak prices. Just look at Gazprom: Its storage in Europe is nowhere near the level it should be. And gas flows through the Yamal pipeline and Ukraine remain low. All this shows that Gazprom does not behave like a regular gas supplier. Corporate interests and politics seem to be closely intertwined.

The good news is that Europe has done its homework since Russia occupied Crimea in 2014. Today we have more than 20 large LNG facilities at European ports and gas infrastructures are deeply interconnected. This reduces our dependence on Russian gas and allows us to diversify our supplies. We are actively engaging with partners like the United States, Norway, Algeria, Azerbaijan and Qatar. The recent energy council with the United States and my joint declaration with President Biden are only the most recent signs for this unprecedented cooperation.

And we can do so much more. We can jointly procure gas to be a more significant player on the international markets. We can better use and expand our gas storage facilities across Europe. And we can build up strategic gas reserves – like we have in place for oil. These and other measures the Commission will shortly propose to Member States.

Alongside these measures, however, the European Green Deal remains our most effective insurance against any future increase in electricity and energy prices. For it is the CO2 heavy, old energies, oil, coal and gas, that are becoming more and more expensive. And it is our dependence on their import, that makes us so vulnerable to price hikes. The cost for renewables, on the other hand, has been constantly falling over the past 10 years. And every kilowatt hour of electricity that Europe generates from the sun, wind, hydropower and biomass makes us more independent from Russian gas and other energy imports. That is why we have to accelerate the deployment of renewables everywhere in Europe. And we will issue additional recommendations to Member States on how to speed up approval processes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

the right answer to the current price increase is not less climate protection or less ambition. The right answer is more and more effective climate protection. And I know that I can count on industry in this transition.

On your innovative spirit, on your support for our European project and on your proven dedication to strengthen Europe as the home of some of the world´s most innovative companies. The European Commission stands ready to support you on our common path.

For a sustainable economy made in Europe.

 

Thank you.

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