Further evidence of the European Commission's interest in re-invigorating microelectronics on the European continent and microelectronics manufacturing in particular has come from Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner responsible for the digital agenda.
Kroes, one of the senior bureaucrats within the Commission, used the opportunity of a keynote speech presented to the IMEC Technology Forum, held in Brussels last month, to ask whether Europe should consider the creation of an Airbus of chips.
Readers may remember that Malcolm Penn of Future Horizons Ltd. was one of the co-authors of a report recently presented to the European Commission that discussed various requirements for, and ways towards, hosting manufacturing on 450-mm diameter wafers. However, while interest is high in Brussels the home of the European Commission because of its potential job- and wealth-creation benefits, the idea seems to be less urgent for a number of European chip companies that are, of course, driven by nearer-term financial considerations.
Meanwhile, data from World Semiconductor Trade Statistics and elsewhere has shown that the European manufacture of chips, and market for chips, have both been in decline for a number of years.
Kroes raised the level of rhetoric by asking whether Europe wants to be a global player or not, and whether it would not be better to opt for European consolidation and cooperation "on our own terms" before consolidation is forced upon European companies for which one might read: "forces them out of existence."
In the past the European discussion has mainly been about collaborative R&D, billions of euros of which is already supported by the Commission. Now Kroes has cited the more interventionist example of Airbus SAS, one of the great European projects and one that has achieved considerable success.
Airbus is a subsidiary of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company NV (EADS), which was deliberately assembled from national defense and aerospace companies across Europe to provide strategic defensive independence at a continental level. It was also set up to produce a rival to Boeing at a commercial level, which it has done with some success. Airbus now produces about half the world's jet airliners.
Anything to do with industry appears to be waning in the western world, primarily because the cost of making things has risen quite high, while being relatively cheap in developing nations. I think things will make a u turn as other parts of the world begin to become more wealthy.
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The main reason is there's not much difference in pay these days. The good side of living in EU is that you'll get healthcare free (in many countries you just have to be a resident to get public services) and 20 days paid holidays (plus paid bank-holidays like here in Ireland, around 7 of them in the year). Also the attitude towards work is way more relaxed here - your boss wants to go for a pint in the evening too, so no late work.
Germany seems to be always winning with mechanical engineering technology.This i am watching from my child hood till now nearly for about 40 years. I suggest that they go into further doing research, development and manufacturing involving machines.What about humanoid robots?
ST, Infineon, et al certainly got lots of taxpayer help in Europe and yet are "too small in themselves" in spite of all that help. Merging them and giving wider European support may be only thing that will keep them alive.
But nanoelectronics will not come out of the legacy microelectronics companies, in my opinion, just a diode makers failed to become transistor makers who then failed to become IC makers. I vote to the IMEC R/D approach.
Many European engineers do migrate to the United States but I think the opportunities are far less than they were during the famous brain-drain time of the 1960s.
This is partly because those U.S. companies have themselves become globalized.