Professor Barrie Dunn was invited to join IPC’s Government Relations team for the annual flagship event called IMPACT Europe on 3-4 December 2019 in Brussels. Barrie's involvement with IPC (Association Connecting Electronics Industries) spans more than 30 years, covering his employment in the Netherlands, as Head of the Materials and Processes Division with the European Space Agency (ESA), and now as Honorary Professor with University of Portsmouth.

Professor Barrie Dunn at Impact Europe group photo

Professor Barrie Dunn, third from the right.  Group photo of IPC members with 4 MEPS (centre).

The agenda included several important and relevant topics relating to the European electronics industry:

  • A discussion on the future of EU chemicals policy and its impact on the electronics supply chain with Cristina de Avila, Head of Unit, Sustainable Chemicals, DG Environment, European Commission and Geert Roebben, Policy Officer, REACH, DG GROW, European Commission.
  • A keynote speech on the future of EU industrial policy by Mr Gwenole Cozigou, Director, Industrial Transformation and Advanced Value Chains at DG GROW and discussion on opportunities and challenges of the renewed strategy for the electronics manufacturing industry. 
  • A session on what you need to know about due diligence and responsible sourcing of minerals with industry and government representatives. This was an opportunity to find out more about the European Commission’s work prior to the entry into force of new conflict minerals rules in 2021, such as the upcoming due diligence transparency database. 

It was beneficial to join the IPC’s Government Relations team for discussions with Members of the European Parliament. I promoted an EU policy that will better recognise the strategic importance of the electronics value chain to European economic and technological competitiveness. 

There is a chronic shortage of adequately skilled workers in the electronics industry. It was noted that ASTA Technology, owned and hosted by the University of Portsmouth, provides skills development for assembling, maintaining and repairing electronic assemblies for mission critical applications. The ASTA courses follow IPC and European Space Agency standards. These courses have enabled hi-rel production experience in Europe, the USA, Canada and the Far East. On-site courses have been conducted in Europe, Malaysia, USA and Canada where ESA training is becoming more and more relevant - even for NASA-certified technicians. 

In the South of England, notably in the Portsmouth area, electronics manufacturers constitute a major boost to the UK economy. Local industries cover the whole spectrum, from aerospace and defence, advanced manufacturing, agriculture to consumer electronics. 

This IMPACT event is significant for British and EU electronic manufacturers and research groups as it is an opportunity for them to provide information to the legislators of EU industrial policy. Objectives appear to be shifting from pure waste management to the sustainability of electronic materials from waste by various metallurgical extraction processes; here the impact will be on secondary raw materials which are strategically important for the future. Ideas for the recovery of common metals and rare earth metals from e-waste will be needed from research groups. The topic of ‘urban mining’ was covered - materials of value might be extracted from existing scrap yards and land-fill sites. 

Legislation needs to be revised and clarified in order for industrialists and academics to better understand the ‘rules of the game’.

Professor Barrie Dunn at Impact Europe

Professor Barrie Dunn with colleague delegates from Estonia (left) and the IPC.