Europe produced a quarter of the world’s semiconductors as recently as 1990 but this has since shrivelled to 8pc. Its share of the most advanced chips – these days below 10 nano-metres – has fallen to near zero.
The EU is spending €43bn in hopes of reconquering 20pc of the world market by the end of this decade, and at the same time achieving security of supply. Since the world market for chips is expected to double by then, the EU must quadruple its output.
Chip manufacturing is capital intensive and fairly low margin – once that capital is accounted for. Why is this an industry that the EU, or any other advanced economy, would want to dominate?
Chip design is one of those oohsqueallikeapiggieatthemargins businesses that the EU, UK and US and so on is already extremely good at. Making the machines that make chips equally so. So why are these people so insistent at trying to break out of a high margin business into a low margin one?
The answer, sadly, is that yes, politicians are that stupid.