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News Article

European decline "risks half a million jobs"

Industry body SEMI calls for investment to improve semiconductor industry competitiveness in Europe, and a focus on specialist sectors.

SEMI has told politicians that allowing the European semiconductor industry to lose more share in the global market could put as many as 500,000 jobs at risk.

On December 9, the industry group visited eight European Union officials and departments, calling on them to provide more investment for the industry.

“If semiconductor manufacturers leave Europe, indigenous equipment & materials producers will face an uncertain future”, said Franz Richter, chairman of the SEMI European Advisory Board.

“Supporting a robust and competitive semiconductor industry in Europe is critical to keeping jobs in Europe across all industries and supporting key European economies.”

In 2007, 45 European countries together claimed the lowest semiconductor device market share of any global region. At just 16 percent, this share has contracted by a quarter in two years.

However, European manufacturers are frequently key customers for chip makers and the semiconductor industry also helps provide the knowledge base that allows such companies to flourish.

Approximately one-third of expenditure on wireless communication semiconductors comes from European companies, with two-thirds of this figure being spent in European territory.

Wireless is the major focus for GaAs power amplifier producers, although currently none of the top-line GaAs manufacturers are based in Europe. With companies like NXP Semiconductor and Infineon's majority-owned DRAM venture Qimonda currently losing vast amounts of money, other chip making sectors are heading in the same direction.

SEMI is therefore lobbying figures like Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, to revive competitiveness in the region's semiconductor industry, and to ensure that its knowledge survives.

It argues that the continent is well-placed to reap financial benefits from specialized semiconductor applications, where compound semiconductors are likely to make a contribution.

However its main focus revolves around the €29 billion ($39 billion) that existing equipment, materials and semiconductor device producers together contribute to the EU economy. These companies provide around 215,000 jobs directly and SEMI says that this rises to a figure of 500,000 indirectly.

While visiting EU officials in Brussels, representatives from SEMI put forward the approach it published in October (see related story) as the best way to ensure the industry's survival.

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