EU Unveils Plan to Cut Dependency on China, Others

May 5, 2021 Updated: May 5, 2021

BRUSSELS —The European Union unveiled on Wednesday a plan to cut its dependency on Chinese and other foreign suppliers in six strategic areas like raw materials, pharmaceutical ingredients, and semiconductors after the pandemic-induced economic slump.

The 27-nation bloc outlined the urgency of the task citing Europe’s reliance on China for about half of 137 products used in sensitive ecosystems, mainly raw materials, and pharmaceuticals, and other products key to the bloc’s green and digital goals.

Epoch Times Photo
European Commission Vice Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis, and EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton hold a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, on May 5, 2021. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

The updated industrial strategy plan was devised after the COVID-19 pandemic showed bottlenecks in the supply chain and the executive European Commission plans to conduct in-depth reviews of supply chains in raw materials, batteries, active pharmaceutical ingredients, hydrogen, semiconductors, and cloud and edge technologies, to decide how to deal with them.

“Today’s updated Industrial Strategy is about making sure our industries are equipped to drive the digital and green transformations of our economy while ensuring the competitiveness of our industries, also in the context of the recovery from the coronavirus crisis,” European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager told a news conference.

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European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis looks on during a joint news conference with Margrethe Vestager (not pictured), and EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton (not pictured) in Brussels, Belgium, on May 5, 2021. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

The EU measures could include “diversifying supply and demand relying on different trading partners whenever possible, but also stockpiling and acting autonomously whenever necessary,” the 19-page document said.

To reduce import dependency, EU countries could pool resources for Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs) in the next-generation cloud, hydrogen, low-carbon industry, pharmaceuticals, and a second IPCEI on cutting-edge semi-conductors.

An IPCEI would allow EU governments to pump in funding under easier state aid rules and for companies to work together on the entire range of the project, from design to production and downstream applications.

By Jan Strupczewski