Could ASML look to move abroad?

1 min read

The Dutch Prime minister and government are said to be planning to meet with the semiconductor equipment maker ASML, as worries mount that the Dutch company may look to shift or expand production abroad.

Why? Well, ASML has expressed growing alarm at what it sees as an increasingly anti-migrant stance on the part of the Dutch government which it claims is hindering its ability to attract skilled foreign workers.

As a result, the Dutch government has been trying to reassure the company and according to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf it is said to have launched a cross-ministry effort, dubbed “Operation Beethoven”, to encourage ASML to continue to invest in the country.

ASML is one of Europe’s most valuable tech firms but around 40% of its 23,000 employees come from overseas.

Its CEO, Peter Wennink, said that while it was looking to expand its operations that would only be possible if it could source enough qualified people and in an interview with RTL, the Dutch broadcaster, warned that if ASML could not get those people in the Netherlands then it could look to Eastern Europe, Asia and the United States.

At present the Dutch government has taken a very strong anti-immigrant stance and has been working to scale back tax breaks for highly skilled immigrants as well as considering placing limits on the number of foreigners who can attend Dutch universities.

Last year’s general election saw the far-right, anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV) emerging as the largest party in parliament and while a new government has yet to be created the PVV, which may be part of that government, is prioritising much stricter immigration policies.

Wennink warned earlier this year that by limiting labour migration companies like ASML could end up relocating to somewhere where they would have much greater freedom to grow.

Could ASML end up leaving the Netherlands because of rising anti-migrant sentiment clashing with economic reality?