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SEMI calls for EU intervention to save jobs

Posted: 12 Dec 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IC job? EU government help? global crisis?

With Europe's declining market share in the global semiconductor business, industry association SEMI Europe calls for immediate government intervention. According to the organization, the increasing competition pressure could endanger up to half a million jobs the in European semiconductor industry and its suppliers.

SEMI presented a White Paper Dec. 10 to European Union officials including European Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reading. The paper is intended to substantiate the organizations claims. The case is urgent, the group says. If the European chip industry won't receive additional public investment soon, the situation could rapidly deteriorate.

According to the paper, the equipment/materials and semiconductor industry generate revenues of 29 billion euros (about $ 37 billion) annually. Currently, about 215,000 jobs are directly connected to chipmaking and even more at suppliers and other parts of the semiconductor supply chain, totaling to about half a million jobs depending on the competiveness of that industry. Chip design and manufacturing contributes significantly to the GDP of eleven European countries, in particular Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Above this, the chip industry is an indispensable innovation driver for a broad range or European key industries including energy, telecommunications, transportation and medical technology, SEMI said. Nevertheless, competition pressure has caused the European share in the global chip markets to decline from 21 percent in 2001 to 16 percent in 2007a drop of almost a quarter. The current global industry downturn with its bleak outlook will add to the problems for chip industry.

The industry organization in this context criticizes that the decline is a consequence of "unfavorable global level playing field conditions," as the SEMI puts it. "If semiconductor manufacturers leave Europe, indigenous equipment and materials producers will face an uncertain future," said Franz Richter, chairman of the SEMI European Advisory Board. "The current economic crisis and rising unemployment underscore the urgent need to safeguard jobs in the European semiconductor industry."

The current advance is not SEMI's first to call politics for support to the chip industry. In October, the group already has presented a similar paper. In the meantime however, the situation has aggravated substantially with Qimonda struggling for survival, the automotive industry as one of the major customers for chips also in a deep crisis and many semiconductor companies writing losses.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
EE Times Europe

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