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Taking the EU Chips Act Over the Finish Line, Together

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By Hendrik Bourgeois, Vice President of European Government Affairs at Intel

Today, we saw what can happen when great ideas and good politicians come together. In an impressive show of force, the entire European Parliament united around a balanced and future-proof position on the EU Chips Act, drafted by Rapporteur Nica, his fellow shadow rapporteurs from across political groups, and Members of the European Parliament from all other involved parliamentary committees. It does not happen every day that such a broad coalition of MEPs from all member states – big and small – and from all political groups align on such an important proposal. But when it’s about the future of European industry and digital leadership, about the green transition, and the challenges for Europe’s workers and enterprises, Europe now shows commendable unity.

The European Parliament is supporting a great idea here, supporting and coming up with meaningful solutions to the problems faced by the wider tech ecosystem enabled by semiconductors. At Intel, we are pleased to see the Parliament proposing a clear and concrete definition of ‘crisis’ and to include a strong ‘last resort’ safeguard in Pillar 3 of the Act.

Another commendable proposal is the strategic mapping exercise, which will be decisive when it comes to preventing future shortages.  The same goes for the increased emphasis on international cooperation with likeminded partners – a point which we, as a global chip producer, wholeheartedly support. Finally, we are glad to see the increased involvement of industry experts in the Supervisory Board and hope that their contribution will further increase the quality of its work by exchanging the most up-to-date information available.

We welcome that both institutions agree on some of the most important parts of the EU Chips Act.  One such instance being the ambition to speed up permitting and state aid procedures. Seeing both parties support a six-month timeline for state aid approval and fast-track procedures for national permitting gives us greater confidence in positive outcomes as an investor.  This increases certainty to companies like us that are contributing to achieving the EU’s ambitions goals for semiconductor production within the EU. These improvements to the EU Chips Act, along with rapid adoption of the regulation, will truly reflect the urgency of the situation and help new investments quickly come to maturity.

During the upcoming negotiations, we invite the teams from both sides to have a critical look at the scope of the critical sector definition, which in its current broad scope could have the unintended effect of disrupting supply chains and chips production. We would also welcome a “Right to be heard” for companies subject to measures under Pillar 3.  This would provide a fair and transparent assessment of potentially complex situations. And finally, as part of a global ecosystem, we would like to draw attention to some of the challenges attached to provisions requiring prior approval to each transfer of business data and intellectual property – adding red tape through the back door of a proposal whose primary aim is to simplify and facilitate. We are confident that the three institutions understand the deterring effect such administrative hurdles can have on investments and Europe’s competitiveness, and hope that such provisions won’t be supported going forward.

As we have been during the entire process, Intel stands ready to play its part and support the negotiators in reaching a deal that works for Europe and European industry. We encourage the teams from both the Council Presidency and the European Parliament to kickstart trilogue discussions, get this important piece of legislation finalized before summer, and give Europe’s semiconductor manufacturers the legal certainty that is so dearly needed.