Technology and Geopolitics
Semiconductors such as processors or memory chips are omnipresent and indispensable for numerous parts of our economy and everyday life. They are a foundational technology of today’s increasingly digitized societies. Nowadays everything from production lines to automobiles or medical equipment relies on them, as well as classic information technologies (ICT) such as smartphones, laptops or servers. Those semiconductors are produced in complex, deep and truly global supply chains: from design to manufacturing equipment, chemicals, production and packaging, no single country can produce leading-edge semiconductors by itself. Despite their key role in our industries’ and society’s accelerating digitalization, the highly complex and interdependent global supply chains of semiconductors are poorly understood from a policy perspective. Our work on ‘Geopolitics of semiconductor supply chains’ seeks to analyze those global value chains to better understand their relevance for and potential impact on industrial competitiveness, technological dependency on foreign countries and national security. The goal is to identify Europe’s position within those supply chains and develop policy advice to address current and future economic interdependencies as well as security risks. To this end the project first analyses the value chains of today’s semiconductors (materials, design, manufacturing, packaging) to identify key players, market characteristics and interdependencies. Based on this analysis the project will then focus on particular policy challenges from a European perspective. The project builds on our previous work on IoT security and the European 5G debate.