European president outlines tech vision to drive Europe

In her State of the Union address as President of the European Commission (EC), Ursula von der Leyen discussed various technology initiatives to support business recovery and drive innovation.

Discussing the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, von der Leyen said that compared to the financial markets slump in 2008, the EC expects 19 countries to be at pre-pandemic levels this year, with the rest to follow next year. . “Growth in the euro area outpaced both the United States and China in the last quarter,” he said. “But this is only the beginning. And the lessons of the financial crisis should serve as a warning.”

Through an initiative called NextGenerationEU, the EU plans to invest in both short-term recovery and long-term prosperity, von der Leyen said. In addition to addressing the structural problems of the economy, he said: “We will invest in 5G and fiber. But equally important is investing in digital skills. This task requires the attention of leaders and a structured dialogue at the highest level. “

According to von der Leyen, the NextGenerationEU initiative sets a clear direction for markets and investors. “Digital is the decisive question,” he said. “And the member states share that opinion. Digital spending at NextGenerationEU will even exceed the 20% target. “

Among the areas von der Leyen highlighted in his speech was the importance of investing in European technological sovereignty. She said: “We have to redouble to shape our digital transformation according to our own rules and values.”

Speaking of the importance of the semiconductor industry in Europe, he said: “Semiconductors, those little chips that make everything work, from smartphones and electric scooters to trains or entire smart factories. There is no digital without chips. And as we speak, complete production lines are already running at reduced speed, despite growing demand, due to the shortage of semiconductors. “

But while global demand has exploded, von der Leyen warned that Europe’s share of the entire value chain, from design to manufacturing capacity, has shrunk. “We depend on state-of-the-art chips made in Asia,” he said. “So this is not just a question of competitiveness. This is also a question of technological sovereignty. So let’s put all of our focus on that. “

Last week, Reuters reported that Intel CEO Pat Gelsigner plans to build two European semiconductor foundries to make chips, and the cost of these facilities is reported to be about $ 80 billion.

While the US dominates the tech sector, and Europe may lag behind in terms of incubation of tech innovation, the EC has taken the lead in regulating the tech sector, establishing the General data protection regulation and now promoting his Law of Artificial Intelligence.

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