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Nexperia in Hamburg: The Ministry of Economics does not want to promote the project after all

Photo: Hanno Bode / IMAGO

One of the European Union's goals is to become less dependent on China and the United States in the production of microchips and chips. To this end, the EU has approved a billion-euro aid programme. According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, there are 31 projects in eleven federal states in Germany alone.

As part of the so-called "Important Project of Common European Interest" (IPCEI), aid amounting to 8.1 billion euros will be approved, according to EU figures. In addition, private companies invested up to 13.7 billion euros, making a total investment of around 21.8 billion euros.

Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck thanked the EU Commission for the decision. "In this way, we can increase resilience across Europe in this important field and secure value creation and jobs," he said. In addition to large companies, small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups are also involved in Germany.

It is also interesting to see who does not benefit from the state subsidy: the chip manufacturer Nexperia. This was confirmed by the Ministry of Economics in response to a request from SPIEGEL. Previously, the »Handelsblatt« had reported on it, citing government circles. Nexperia has been owned by the semi-state-owned Chinese company Wingtech since 2019. According to Handelsblatt, this is also the reason why Nexperia has been removed from the list of eligible projects. In 2021, the ministry had spoken of 32 projects worthy of funding.

Infineon and Bosch, for example, are benefiting

Among others, Infineon with locations in Bavaria, Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia as well as Bosch with locations in Baden-Württemberg and Dresden are to be promoted. The projects range from material production and chip design to the creation of new products and applications.

The number of 31 projects in Germany is not directly comparable with the 68 projects across Europe that the EU Commission is talking about – the Ministry of Economic Affairs is talking about around 100 projects across Europe. This is due to different counting methods, the ministry explained. According to the EU Commission's counting method, there are 23 funded projects for Germany.

In addition to Germany, 13 other EU countries are participating in the project, including France, Austria, the Netherlands and Spain. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said microchips are the backbone of the economy – Europe needs to increase its own capabilities in this area.

It is already the second major microelectronics offensive by the EU, which approved a similar program in 2018. At that time, according to EU Commissioner Vestager, a Bosch chip factory in Dresden and Carl Zeiss in Baden-Württemberg, among others, had benefited. The EU Commission must approve important national funding projects so that there are no distortions of competition between EU states.