Around us we see the huge changes digital developments are offering.
One with opportunities and benefits for the young and the old. The rich and the poor. Men and women.
Digital is a tool to build competitiveness and drive innovation.
And it's transforming everything we do. We're not just talking about your phone – but your car, your television, your wallet, your school text-book, your light-switch, your first aid kit, your factory. Your community, your company, our society. All will go connected.
Broadband networks will combine with the energy grid, with cloud computing, smart environments, smart cities, intelligent transport, big data, the Internet of Things. For seamless new services for every citizen.
And all relying on ICT. All ultimately relying on innovations, ideas and inspirations from your sector, electronics.
This revolution will be a big deal. From your perspective it will massively increase demand for your products and services.
New demands to meet. And new upstream and downstream industries to connect and cooperate with.
From the perspective of Europe as a whole, it promises to inject innovation, energise our economy, generate jobs. But only if we stay ahead of the global game.
That is the purpose of our European Electronics Strategy, which I put in place one year ago. To stimulate this strategic sector, boost our leadership, boost our economy.
And by the way that strategy includes ideas I first presented and put forward to this very forum, just over two years ago.
We've made a lot or progress – thanks also to you. I want to set out what we've achieved – but also what we still need to do.
First, we have agreement on a new Joint Undertaking, Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership – ECSEL for short. The EU's member countries agreed that in less than one year. It's a public-private partnership between the Union, the industry and national governments – lining up all those sources of funding. And in less than a month it will launch its first calls for proposals. We ourselves are contributing nearly €1.2 billion for the next 7 years, which I hope the EU's Member States will at least match. And I count on industry and their R&D partners to double that amount again. All together a joint investment of €5 billion. That will make it the EU's single largest public private partnership. That seems appropriate, given this sector: its size, its strategic importance, its centrality to innovation and growth.
And it's not just about national governments. Regions are also fully involved: reinforcing our action, an approach that benefits all parties. Several have already reinforced their commitment to co-fund. All sources are being lined up to deliver in the most effective way so Europe can be a global player.
And we are also modernising the State Aid framework, so this sector benefits from the right kind of public support. So significant projects do not face uncertainty and delay – and without subverting or distorting our competitive single market. We consulted and we listened: where you raised concerns we acted on them. We doubled the notification thresholds for R&D&I projects. And also for Joint Technology Initiatives.
And we will also have – for the first time ever – guidelines on Important Projects of Common European Interest. Showing when countries and regions can finance first production projects, so they go beyond pilot lines and make the leap to manufacturing and markets. Now it's up to those countries and regions, and of course industry, to seize the opportunity and put forward the proposals.
And last September, I set up the Electronics Leaders Group. I asked CEOs of the largest European companies in electronics for a strategic industrial roadmap for European electronics, so that we can double semiconductor production in Europe by 2020, and double the economic value of components and systems within 10 years.
They delivered that in February. Maybe that's not what everyone wants for a Valentine's gift – most people would prefer flowers or chocolates! But I loved receiving it. Because – by ensuring the supply of components, simulating demand, and creating the right framework conditions – it is going to make a real difference. To the sector, to the whole economy, to the prospects of all those without work and opportunity.
In particular, there will be new "lighthouse" projects, new zones to fully test advanced technologies, continuing investment in pilot lines, and connecting centres of competence.
The Leaders Group and its ideas make a big difference. It means all the actors need to work together: from those providing materials, to those integrating chips into systems. That is profound change – but inevitable, and I fully agree it needs to happen.
And that Group is right to emphasise that demand matters. The demand from end-users that will incentivise innovation, and stimulate it. And that's something we are supporting – from healthcare to smart cities.
But we cannot forget about stimulating supply. I am going to continue to insist on that.
Europe needs the capacity and capability to design and manufacture electronic components and systems: secure, trustworthy, innovative . We should not artificially inflate and build ballooning overcapacity – but if we just rely on demand picking up, and just wait around for that to happen, it will be too late. That is not an option.
The Leaders Group is considering all inputs for its more detailed implementation plan. I am expecting concrete proposals by the end of the month. And then we need to put them into effect.
Because the framework conditions are now in place. The partnerships, the funding rules, the cooperation and leadership. Europe stands to benefit from these tremendous technological transformations. The only question is – do we have the creativity, direction and purpose to make a difference? Do we have the scale and the ambition and the energy to lead the world?
I think we do!
So it's time to stop talking about industrial policy – we've done that for years. Companies, politicians and citizens share the same goals – more competitiveness, more employment, a stronger economy. That's got to be a priority for anyone at the moment.
Now we have a perfect way to do it. So let's start doing it.
We have the roadmap – but a roadmap is not enough to get to your destination. Let's start the engine, and set off. Only concrete action can get us where we want to be – to make Europe an ever better place to innovate, invest and produce. An electronic leader in the world. Thank you.