Seeking "driving seat" for EU, Breton to meet chipmaker execs


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner for internal market and consumer protection, industry, research and energy, addresses a news conference in Brussels

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By Michel Rose and Douglas Busvine

PARIS/BERLIN (Reuters) – European industry chief Thierry Breton will hold discussions with the chief executive of chipmaker Intel (NASDAQ:) and a top executive of Taiwanese competitor TMSC on April 30, as the EU seeks to shield itself from shocks in the global supply chain.

Breton will meet Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger in Brussels next Friday and will also hold a video conference with Maria Marced, President of TMSC Europe, on the same day, the European Commissioner said.

“Increasing our autonomy does not mean isolating ourselves in a world where supply chains are global,” Breton told Reuters.

“In parallel to exploring how we can increase Europe’s capacity… we will continue to build bridges with international partners – but with us in the driving seat,” he added, confirming the meetings.

Sources in Brussels say Breton is keen to attract a leading chipmaker to site a major fabrication plant in the EU that would help realise the Commission’s ambition of gaining access to the most advanced production over the next decade.

Gelsinger, new in the job, has announced his intent to build a ‘fab’ in Europe as part of a strategy reset in which Intel would launch a foundry – or contract manufacturing – division and invest billions in new capacity.

Yet, the Brussels sources say, Breton is keener to reel in TSMC, which is the undisputed industry leader and has a better command of the most advanced manufacturing processes.

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Analysts caution that siting a major plant in Europe could prove to be a strategic blunder because the continent – which doesn’t produce smartphones and other consumer electronics that require state-of-the-art processors – lacks a viable market.

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