ASML expansion agreement will be based on trust and that worries Eindhoven

ASML expansion agreement will be based on trust and that worries Eindhoven

The Eindhoven City Council discussed ASML’s expansion plans. Those plans expropriate large tracts of land, necessitating city council approval. It bothers some politicians that an agreement must be made before the consequences for Eindhoven are clear.

After a positive agreement of intent with the municipality of Eindhoven, the city council repeated the positive opinion on ASML’s expansion on Tuesday night. Only several parties want more certainty about the consequences of the expansion. Requirements would be imposed on the chip machine maker to keep the city livable. Some fear that it will be difficult to enforce those requirements because the expansion must first be approved before the requirements are drafted.

SP council member Jannie Visscher expressed her concerns: “The order is wrong. We have to say ‘yes’ first, and only then do we look at the consequences. While no hard agreements have been made with ASML.” On the municipal side, information about the current facilities and the necessary expansions also appears not to have been gathered yet. Alderman Stijn Steenbakkers of the CDA promises clear insight into what is needed by the end of 2024.

Overall, the city council is mostly willing to allow ASML’s expansion. The final decision will have to be made based on limited information. Steenbakkers puts it as follows: “It’s about trust in each other that we will keep agreements made. But it is also about self-confidence. We as a city must have the self-confidence to handle this.”

20,000 additional workplaces

The expansion plans are part of Operation Beethoven, a government plan to keep ASML in the Netherlands. The extra government effort is made to defend what is at stake: economic interests. Jobs are at stake at both the chip machine maker and its suppliers.

The expansion plans would account for an additional 20,000 jobs, effectively double the roughly 21,000 employees it currently has in the Netherlands. Extra capacity is needed to keep up with the demand for chips, which will rise dramatically in the coming years due to AI, among other things.

Vote to spread investment beyond Eindhoven

In addition to land, a budget was also needed to expand local infrastructure. The Rutte IV cabinet, which is making decisions until a new cabinet is formed, wants to spend 2.5 billion euros for this purpose. That will be divided, among other things, between the development of local infrastructure and the support of the technical universities and Brainport Eindhoven.

The IT social hub Brainport Eindhoven reaches across 21 municipalities and would receive 1.7 billion euros from the government. Much of that budget will be absorbed by Eindhoven, but the government believes other municipalities should also be able to claim the 800 million euros provided for education and research. That opinion is raised by NSC MP Van Hijum: “We say: don’t just look at the geographical cluster in the Eindhoven region. Be aware that a lot is happening in other places in the Netherlands.” In particular, he looks at Groningen, Delft, Twente and Almere. “On these locations are also young people trained in semiconductor engineering.”

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