He described a “complex constellation of reasons behind Europe’s resurgence in information technologies,” including the slow but persistent progress to a truly common market, the development of the euro, and an increasingly more integrated European financial services marketplace. The latter has meant greater liquidity and a wider range of financial institutions, including venture capital and growth-issue stock exchanges like the Neue Markt in Germany. Europe’s financial marketplace can now fund innovation in technology industries, he said, in ways it could not a decade ago. Another reason for Europe’s emergence is the choice of common standards in wireless communications, which has helped to boost European manufacturers to the leading edge. And finally, the European cooperative programs, such as ESPRIT and RACE, which were formed more than a decade previously, had been important in fostering collaboration among European companies and between Europe and the rest of the world. To discuss the first of these programs he introduced Dr. Jürgen Knorr, chairman of MEDEA, who had spent many years at Siemens in a variety of senior management roles.
Micro-Electronics Development for European Applications (MEDEA)
Dr. Knorr, who began by characterizing himself as “one of those European dwarfs who would like to play a small role in semiconductors,” confessed that it is “very strange” to be leading a program to support the multinational semiconductor industry. The tradition had always been to support one’s own industry and nation, but now his organization was saying “no.” The semiconductor industry has become global and MEDEA’s objectives have to be shaped accordingly.
He then said that the national features within Europe do cause some special difficulties. Europe, he noted, is neither a nation nor a republic. He observed the political economy of this federative system to be the “analog of a semicustom integrated circuit (IC), a non-optimized, coordinated conglomerate of different functions which try to shoot for one target—a target, though, that is interpreted in different ways.” French English is different from German English, he said, and both differ from what the Italians may understand when using the same words. As a result this reality caused the Europeans to think together about the best way to close the gap between Japan and Europe in manufacturing, about intellectual property creation in the United States, and about what is possible politically and financially.