Digital sovereignty: Commission kick-starts alliances for Semiconductors and industrial cloud technologies

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The European Commission kick-starts today two new Industrial Alliances: the Alliance for Processors and Semiconductor technologies, and the European Alliance for Industrial Data, Edge and Cloud.

The two new alliances will advance the next generation of microchips and industrial cloud/edge computing technologies and provide the EU with the capabilities needed to strengthen its critical digital infrastructures, products and services. The alliances will bring together businesses, Member State representatives, academia, users, as well as research and technology organisations.

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, said: “Cloud and edge technologies present a tremendous economic potential for citizens, businesses and public administrations, for example in terms of increased competitiveness and meeting industry-specific needs. Microchips are at the heart of every device we use nowadays. From our mobile phones to our passports, these small components bring a wealth of opportunities for technological advancements. Supporting innovation in these critical sectors is therefore crucial and can help Europe leap ahead together with like-minded partners.”

Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said: “Europe has all it takes to lead the technological race. The two alliances will devise ambitious technological roadmaps to develop and deploy in Europe the next generation of data processing technologies from cloud to edge and cutting-edge semiconductors. The alliance on cloud and edge aims at developing energy-efficient and highly secured European industrial clouds, which are not subject to control or access by third country authorities. The alliance on semiconductors will rebalance global semiconductor supply chains by ensuring that we have the capacity to design and produce, in Europe, the most advanced chips towards 2nm and below.”

Industrial Alliance for Processors and Semiconductor technologies

Microchips, including processors, are key technologies that power all electronic devices and machines we use today. Chips underpin a large variety of economic activities, and determine their energy efficiency and security levels. Capabilities in the development of processors and chips are crucial to the future of today’s most advanced economies. The Industrial Alliance on processors and semiconductor technologies will be a key instrument to further industrial progress in the EU in this area.

It will identify and address current bottlenecks, needs and dependencies across the industry. It will define technological roadmaps ensuring that Europe has the capacity to design and produce the most advanced chips while reducing its overall strategic dependencies by increasing its share of the global production of semiconductors to 20% by 2030.

To this aim, the Alliance aims to establish the design and manufacturing capacity required to produce the next generation of trusted processors and electronic components. This will mean moving Europe towards a production capacity of 16 nanometre (nm) to 10nm nodes to support Europe’s current needs, as well as below 5 to 2 nm and beyond to anticipate future technology needs. The most advanced types of semiconductors are more performant and have the potential to cut massively the energy used by everything from phones to data centres.

European Alliance for Industrial Data, Edge and Cloud

As highlighted in the European Strategy for Data, the volume of data generated is greatly increasing and a significant proportion of data is expected to be processed at the edge (80% by 2025, from only 20% today), closer to the users and where data are generated. This shift represents a major opportunity for the EU to strengthen its own cloud and edge capacities, and hence its technological sovereignty. It will require the development and deployment of fundamentally new data processing technologies, encompassing the edge, moving away from fully centralised data processing infrastructure models.

The European Alliance for Industrial Data, Edge and Cloud will foster the emergence of disruptive cloud and edge technologies that are highly secure, energy and resource-efficient and fully interoperable, fostering trust for cloud users across all sectors. The Alliance will serve the specific needs of EU citizens, businesses, and the public sector (including for military and security purposes) to process highly sensitive data, while boosting the competitiveness of EU industry on cloud and edge technologies.

Throughout its lifespan, the work of the Alliance will respect the following key principles and norms:

  • Highest standards in terms of interoperability and portability/reversibility, openness and transparency;
  • Highest standards in terms of data protection, cybersecurity, and data sovereignty;
  • State of the art in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability;
  • Compliance with European cloud best practices, including through adherence to relevant standards, codes of conduct and certification schemes.

Participation in the Alliances

These Alliances are open for participation by all public and private entities with a legal representative in the Union and with relevant activities, provided they meet the conditions defined in the Terms of Reference.

Due to the strategic relevance of the activities in the respective sectors, membership of the Alliances is subject to compliance with a number of conditions. Relevant stakeholders must meet eligibility criteria, related notably to security (including cybersecurity), security of supply, IP protection, data protection and data access and practical utility to the Alliance. They must sign the Declarations and fill in an application form, which will be assessed by the European Commission.

Background

The European Alliance for Industrial Processors and Semiconductor Technologies builds on the Commission’s ambitions to bolster Europe’s microelectronics and embedded systems value chains and strengthen leading-edge manufacturing capacity. In December 2020, Member States committed to work together to reinforce Europe’s capabilities in semiconductor technologies and offering the best performance for applications in a wide range of sectors. 22 Member States are currently signatories of this initiative.

The European Alliance for Industrial Data, Edge and Cloud builds on the political will, expressed by all 27 Member States in October 2020, to foster the development of the next generation cloud and edge capacities for the public and private sectors. In their Joint Declaration, the signatory Member States agreed to work together towards deploying resilient and competitive cloud infrastructure and services across Europe.

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