MUNICH, Germany The VDE, umbrella group for the German electrotechnical and electronics industry, has raised its voice in favor of state aid for the ailing chip industry. At the EC level, the industry might find this a hard nut to crack.
The group calls for higher public aid as well as for stronger industrial commitment to Germany and Europe as production location. The line of argumentation is that microelectronics has a leverage effect for many industries. With regard to the industry structure in Germany, the VDE expects the strongest effects for automotive, medical technology, energy and life style technology segments. Since increasingly system and application expertise is implemented at the chip level, VDE argues, the semiconductor industry becomes a strategic factor for the industry as a whole. If chip manufacturing is relocated elsewhere, only small parts of the engineering value chain as well as marketing and support have a survival chance.
"For these reasons, chip fabs must be kept in Germany, otherwise only the system design know-how will move along with them", the group states. A spokesperson added that this equally holds true for all European industry countries, and should be repeated at a European level. The statements are not related to the current Qimonda insolvency but "we already assume this position for years", she said.
EC officials assume a reserved attitude towards public subsidies for the semiconductor industry. In recent weeks, EC industry commissioner GŁnter Verheugen repeatedly has declined to support Qimonda and to increase the level of legal state aid for the semiconductor industry.
The VDE analysis is the result of a poll among top managers in the microelectronics industry which will be presented at the Cebit technology fair (March 03 through March 08). The companies represented by the VDE in 2008 exported goods and services valued at 57 billion (about $74 billion).