At IPC’s Urging, European Commission Takes Closer Look at EMS, PCB Sectors

By Alison James, Senior Director, IPC Europe

Today, the European Commission put a spotlight on the EMS and PCB industries with the goal of better understanding the region’s strategic dependencies in electronics manufacturing and implications for the broader manufacturing sector. The Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) called the meeting of key industry stakeholders, which included leading companies from the renewable energy, aerospace/defense, automotive, and industrial sectors. 

 The DG GROW dialogue was called on the heels of an IPC meeting in April that brought together government leaders and the key segments of the electronics industry to press for an EU strategy to strengthen silicon-to-systems innovation and manufacturing. This April IPC meeting highlighted a stark reality: key EU priorities—including those for semiconductor leadership, digitalization, and circularity—are contingent upon a robust European electronics manufacturing sector that has faced significant erosion over the last two decades. The electronics industry, though largely hidden from consumers, is an enabler of innovation and resiliency across all sectors of the economy.

 Key officials at DG GROW attended the IPC April meeting. DG GROW was responsive to the concerns of industry and the need to understand better the electronics supply chain, to define existing and future risks to EU strategic autonomy and identify potential policy interventions. To this end, DG GROW organized today’s structured dialogue within one of its principal mechanisms for external expert engagement – the Industrial Forum. 

 IPC’s Senior Director for Solutions Dr. Hans-Peter Tranitz began today’s meeting by providing participants with a presentation on the electronics manufacturing supply chain and the importance of a strong silicon-to-systems ecosystem. Later, in my role as head of IPC government relations in Brussels, I made the case for the industry’s policy priorities, which include the EU:

  1. Affirming clearly the strategic importance of PCB and EMS manufacturing
  2. Funding R&D initiatives to ensure that PCB and EMS capabilities exist in Europe to complement advancements in chip fabrication.
  3. Supporting investments in capital equipment to bolster European manufacturing capabilities and facilitate the industry’s migration to the factory of the future.    
  4. Strengthening the workforce pipeline and creating career pathways with industry-recognized training programs. 
  5. Resolving disparate trade treatment that discourages domestic sourcing of electronics. 

 IPC was joined in its call for regional action by executives ACB (France), AT&S (Austria), InCap (Finland), and Zollner (Germany).

 IPC appreciates that DG GROW has demonstrated its interest in these industrial challenges and has initiated near-term goals to further define with the industry the market challenges and policy needs. IPC, together with our members and partners, will continue to work with the European Commission on these issues in the coming weeks and months.