The European Commission has kick-started two new Industrial Alliances last week: the Alliance for Processors and Semiconductor technologies, and the European Alliance for Industrial Data, Edge and Cloud. The alliances are intended to bring together businesses, Member State representatives, academia, users, as well as research and technology organizations.

The statement is part of an update to the EU’s industrial policy, which began in March of last year and aims to increase the European Union’s independence from technologies produced and manufactured in other areas of the world.

In 2017, the EU formed its first industrial alliance with the goal of making the EU a global leader in the research and manufacture of sustainable batteries for the automotive sector. The European Commission now intends to expand on this by forming new technological sovereignty partnerships.

All public and commercial entities with a legal representative in the European Union and related activities are welcome to join these two new Alliances, as long as they satisfy the requirements outlined in the Terms of Reference.

Membership in the Alliances is subject to a variety of requirements due to the strategic importance of the operations in the relevant sectors. Relevant stakeholders must fulfill qualifying requirements to be able to sign up to the Alliance Declaration, including security (including cybersecurity), supply chain security, intellectual property protection, data protection and data access, and practical Alliance utility. They must sign the Declarations and submit an application form to the European Commission, which will be evaluated.

Enhancing Competitiveness in Cloud and Edge

The European Alliance for Industrial Data, Edge, and Cloud will promote the development of innovative cloud and edge technologies that are highly secure, energy and resource efficient, and completely interoperable, promoting cloud user confidence across all industries. The Alliance will meet the particular demands of EU people, companies, and the public sector to process highly sensitive data (including for military and security purposes), while also enhancing EU industry’s competitiveness in cloud and edge technologies.

“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,” said European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, setting the strategic direction of the political priority ‘Europe Fit for the Digital Age’.

“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.”

Processors and Semiconductor Technologies

Microchips, especially processors, are essential components of today’s electronic gadgets, machinery and data center equipment. Chips are at the heart of a wide range of economic operations, determining their energy efficiency and security. Processor and chip development capabilities are critical to the future of today’s most sophisticated economies. The Industrial Alliance on Processors and Semiconductor Technologies will therefore be a critical tool for the EU to advance in this sector.

Photo European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager
“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. Supporting innovation in this critical sector is therefore crucial and can help Europe leap ahead together with like-minded partners,” said European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

The Alliance says it will identify and address present industry bottlenecks, requirements, and dependencies. It will lay out technical roadmaps to ensure that Europe has the capability to develop and manufacture the most sophisticated chips while also lowering its overall strategic reliance by raising Europe’s share of global semiconductor manufacturing to 20% by 2030.

“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,” said Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton. “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.”

The Alliance wants to build the design and manufacturing capability needed to manufacture the next generation of trustworthy processors and electrical components to achieve this goal. This will entail shifting Europe’s manufacturing capacity from 16 nanometer (nm) to 10 nanometer (nm) nodes to meet present needs, as well as below 5 to 2 nm and beyond to meet future technological demands. Advanced semiconductors are more efficient and have the potential to drastically reduce the amount of energy needed by everything from phones to data centers.

Data Handled at the Edge Set to Increase

According to the European Data Strategy, the volume of data created is rapidly rising, and a substantial percentage of that data will be handled at the edge (80% by 2025, up from 20% currently), closer to consumers and where data is generated. This change offers the EU with a significant chance to improve its cloud and edge capabilities, and hence its technological sovereignty. It will need the development and implementation of fundamentally new data processing technologies, including those at the edge, as well as a shift away from fully centralized data processing infrastructure models.

The European Alliance for Industrial Data, Edge, and Cloud builds on the political commitment stated by all 27 EU Member States in October 2020 to support the development of next-generation cloud and edge capabilities for both the public and commercial sectors. The signatory member states committed in their Joint Declaration to work together to develop robust and competitive cloud infrastructure and services across Europe.

The Alliance’s activities will adhere to the following core principles and conventions throughout its existence:

  • Interoperability, portability/reversibility, openness, and transparency are all of the utmost importance
  • Aiming for the highest data protection, cybersecurity, and data sovereignty norms
  • In terms of energy efficiency and sustainability, it should be really state-of-the-art
  • Adherence to appropriate standards, codes of conduct, and certification schemes, as well as compliance with European cloud best practices