As the world grapples with a shortage of computer chips, the European Union wants to become a force in manufacturing semiconductors.
In its bid for greater technological sovereignty, the European Commission has set out ambitions for Europe to manufacture one-fifth of the world’s semiconductors by 2030 and to build its first quantum computer.
The strategy, called Digital Compass, was unveiled by European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton.
In comes amid a global chip shortage that has been a cause for alarm amongst many industries and sectors, from automotive to smartphones to artificial intelligence.
The auto industry in particular has felt the pinch, racking up staggering losses from delays in manufacturing. The issue has highlighted how much industries rely on chips and how much Europe relies on the US and China for these supplies.
Meanwhile in the US, Joe Biden signed an executive order last month to call for a policy review of the US’s supply chains to prevent any future bottlenecks, with the administration seeking $37bn in funding for the efforts.
Europe’s efforts do not stop with making computer chips as it wants to take on a greater role in the development of quantum computing. The plan calls for Europe to build its own quantum computer between now and 2030. Quantum computing could supercharge research in areas like medicine.
“As a continent, Europe has to ensure that its citizens and businesses have access to a choice of state-of-the-art technologies that will make their life better, safer, and even greener – provided they also have the skills to use them,” Breton said. “In the post pandemic world, this is how we will shape together a resilient and digitally sovereign Europe. This is Europe’s Digital Decade.”
The broader Digital Compass plans make the case for an acceleration of digital transformation of business over the next 10 years. The Commission said that by 2030, three out of four companies should be using cloud computing, big data and AI.
Also among the plan is a commitment that all European households should have gigabit internet connectivity and all populated areas be covered by 5G by 2030.
It goes on to urge greater digitalisation of public services, saying that over the next 10 years all main public services should be available online and all European citizens should have access to electronic medical records.
These plans will take some time to be put into action as the details – and how they will be financed – will require approval from EU member states and the European Parliament.
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