EU Industry Chief To Meet With Intel, TSMC Execs Amidst Chip Crisis


EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton to meet with Intel chief Pat Gelsinger and top TSMC executive amidst pressure to increase bloc’s chip ‘autonomy’

The EU’s industry commissioner Thierry Breton is to meet with Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger and a top TSMC executive this week as the bloc seeks added sway in the semiconductor supply chain.

The meetings come amidst chip shortages, induced by chaotic market conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic, that have forced automakers to pause production in plants in Europe and around the world.

Breton said he is to meet with Gelsinger, who took over as Intel’s chief executive in February, in Brussels on Friday and is to hold a video call with Maria Marced, president of TSMC Europe on the same day.

He said the EU is looking to increase its “autonomy” while maintaining its position in the global supply chain.

Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger

‘Driving seat’

Under an EU industrial plan, the bloc is seeking to increase its chip manufacturing capacity while also building “bridges with international partners – but with us in the driving seat”, Breton told Reuters.

The commissioner wants to persuade a major chipmaker such as Intel or TSMC to site a fabrication plant in the EU as part of the Digital Compass strategy.

The strategy aims to double Europe’s share of global semiconductor production to 20 percent by 2030, as well as bringing in production of the most advanced chips of the kind produced only by the likes of Intel, Samsung, TSMC and a handful of others.

The plan is in stark contrast to the current shortages that have exposed Europe’s reliance on chips made in Asia.

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In a speech on Friday, GCHQ chief Jeremy Fleming similarly emphasised that the UK must not lose control of key technologies to Asia.

Gelsinger has announced plans to build a fabrication plant in Europe as part of a strategy to launch a contract manufacturing division and to build out production capacity.

However, Breton is said to consider TSMC a bigger win as it commands more advanced manufacturing processes, according to unnamed Brussels sources cited by Reuters.

Possible locations for a European fab could include France, Germany’s Dresden area or Poland.

Europe has large chipmakers including Infineon, STM and NXP, but they do not manufacture cutting-edge processors, instead focusing on niche markets such as the chips used in automobiles.

Earlier this month Gelsinger reportedly told US lawmakers he would aim to deploy Intel’s plant capacity in the next six to nine months to manufacture auto chips to ease immediate shortages, potentially using plants in Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Israel or Ireland.