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Country heads demand more speed from EU Commission in funding projects for future technologies

Michael Kretschmer (CDU), Minister President of Saxony / Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa
Michael Kretschmer (CDU), Minister President of Saxony / Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa

Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) and Baden-Württemberg's Head of Government Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) are demanding accelerated funding projects and less effort from the EU Commission.

Länder leaders have demanded more speed from the EU Commission in funding projects for future technologies. Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) said Monday in Berlin that the EU needs a different "approach." Baden-Württemberg's head of government Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) said important funding projects must come faster and should not be so costly. The EU is competing with the U.S. and China, he said. The president of the Federal Association of German Industry, Siegfried Russwurm, said two years approval time is clearly too long.

In the course of an important joint European project (IPCEI) on microelectronics, 31 German projects from eleven states are to be supported in Germany with a total of about four billion euros, as already known. This involves projects from Infineon and Bosch, for example. Seventy percent of the funding will be provided by the federal government - 30 percent by the eleven participating states in which the companies are implementing their projects. Approval from the EU Commission is required for this. According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, the companies are investing a total of ten billion euros, for example for production facilities, manufacturing plants and the development of new types of semiconductor chips.

Not on the list, because it is a different funding pot, are billion-dollar subsidies for planned investments by U.S. chipmaker Intel in Magdeburg and Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC in Dresden. The subsidies had been criticized by small and medium-sized businesses, among others.

Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) said subsidies were always the last resort in a market economy. The semiconductor industry, however, is one of the key industries of the future and one of the pillars of Germany's future as an industrial location. Habeck referred to existing dependencies and the EU's goal of doubling its global market share to 20 percent. The industry should be made domestic again in Europe and Germany, he said.

The EU had approved the billion-dollar aid program in June. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager had called microchips the backbone of the economy, Europe must increase its own capabilities here. It is the second major microelectronics offensive by the EU, which had already approved a similar program in 2018.

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