Dutch tech hub mayor warns EU is lagging behind on innovation support


The European Union is falling behind on support for new technologies as it risks becoming dependent on the US and China, according to the mayor of a major Dutch tech hub.

“We’re lagging behind and it’s becoming very problematic,” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, former Dutch finance minister and mayor of the southern city of Eindhoven, which is home to about 6,000 technology companies including NXP Semiconductors NV. ASML Holding NV, Europe’s most valuable technology company, is headquartered in the neighbouring town of Veldhoven.

Dijsselbloem’s comments come as some European countries raised concerns that US President Joe Biden’s incentives to support domestic innovation will hit their local companies. The US campaign aims to counter China’s advancement in state-of-the-art technology, with laws approved by Congress last year earmarking about $50 billion to promote domestic semiconductor production and $370 billion to meet climate goals.

China has emerged as the top manufacturer of key green technologies and President Xi Jinping has been urging Chinese companies to establish technological independence.

These support programmes are “so massive that Europe is really in trouble,” Dijsselbloem said. He credited the European Commission with good initiatives, but said they are not backed by enough strength.

The EU has set out new measures to boost green technology, as it seeks to compete with the US and China. In April, the bloc approved a €43 billion plan to boost semiconductor production.

“Our answer to the current international economic threats cannot just be protection. It also has to be promoted,” he said.

According to Dijsselbloem, investments need to be funnelled into next-generation technologies, particularly across growing tech ecosystems such as Eindhoven, Dresden, Berlin and Grenoble.