Merkel, who is serving her fourth and final term as leader of Europe’s manufacturing power, said in an interview with the Financial Times that Europe must compete aggressively with technology companies in the United States and Asia.
“I think the chips should be manufactured in the European Union, that Europe should have its own hyperscalers and that it should be possible to produce battery cells,” he told the newspaper.
The European Union has struggled for years to produce leading technology companies. It lacks an innovation center on the Silicon Valley scale, and the government’s strategic support provided many technology companies in Asia.
Germany’s auto giants currently have no choice but to rely on battery producers in South Korea and China to equip most of their new electric vehicles. Volkswagen (VLKAF) It is partnering with Northvolt of Sweden to build a battery factory in Germany, but production is expected to begin in late 2023 at the earliest.
American and Asian companies dominate chip manufacturing. And Europe has no hyperscalers, or companies that provide Internet infrastructure that supports large platforms such as Google (GOOGL), Facebook (full board) Y Amazon (AMZN).
By suggesting that Europe, and not only Germany, should develop new technological capabilities, Merkel could be opening the door to the kind of industrial strategy favored by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron has been pushing for the creation and protection of European champions who can compete better with their foreign rivals. Airbus (EADSF), which has facilities across the EU and competes with Boeing (licensed in letters), is a successful example.
But by calling for greater regional innovation and competitiveness, Merkel rejected the path taken by the Trump administration, which has tried to boost US interests by confronting China with trade, intellectual property protections and Beijing’s support for state-owned enterprises. .
“In Germany and Europe do we want to dismantle all interconnected global supply chains … due to this economic competition?” He added: “In my opinion, the complete isolation of China may not be the answer.”
Merkel also told the Financial Times that Europe should have the confidence to set global standards, such as GDPR rules that have helped strengthen data protection worldwide.
“I strongly believe that personal data does not belong to the state or companies,” he said. “It must be guaranteed that the individual has sovereignty over his own data and can decide with whom and for what purpose he shares it.”
The interview could presage Merkel’s message to business and political leaders next week in Davos. The chancellor is scheduled to give an opening address at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Thursday.