EU looks to US with goal of depriving China of most advanced technologies

Commissioner speaks in Washington of ‘dependencies’ and supply chains as ‘geopolitical instruments’

The EU is seeking “stronger common ground” with the United States on technology security and does not want to see China having access to cutting-edge advances.

It also wants to develop a strong partnership with Washington on cyber security and has warned that Europe cannot allow itself to become dependent on Beijing for access to key equipment and materials crucial for the new green economy, as it had been on Russia for oil and gas.

In a speech in Washington, EU commissioner for industry, digital and defence policy Thierry Breton said “dependencies are used as weapons against us; supply chains become geopolitical instruments”.

He added: “We cannot allow China to access the most advanced technologies, be they in semiconductors, quantum, cloud, edge, AI or connectivity.


“I see a very strong alignment in this agenda between the EU and the US, even if we may sometimes differ on the methods – which is normal. We worked towards 5G cybersecurity to remove high-risk suppliers from our networks and we are following closely the ongoing Chinese investment into European critical infrastructures.”

Mr Breton said the US and EU had put forward legislation – the Chips Acts – to facilitate “advanced chips mega fans to be developed on our respective soils”. He said this would “allow us to rebalance and secure our supply chains and reduce collective dependence on Asia”.

“A word, in this context, on the US’s bold decision on export controls of semiconductors. In Europe we fully agree with the objective of depriving China of the most advanced chips. And the same goes for quantum technologies.

“You will always find Europe by your side when it comes to ensuring our common security in technology. But action should be limited to what is necessary from a security point of view and done in full, transparent and open partnership with Europe.”

Mr Breton said, with its green deal programme, Europe wanted to be the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 which would be largely based on electricity. He said this would involve new ways of storing electricity such as using batteries or hydrogen, which would need raw materials such as lithium, cobalt and rare earths.

“We will need to invest $450 billion per year – private and public – to drive this transformation – 3 per cent of our GDP [gross domestic product].

“But if this is used to buy Chinese solar panels, batteries or refined lithium, we will have only achieved replacing a dependency on fossil fuels with new dependencies.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent