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The Dutch government is deploying a covert operation called “Beethoven” to keep leading tech company ASML in the Netherlands. This is in response to concerns expressed by the chip machine manufacturer about the local business climate, mainly because of problems surrounding knowledge migrants, as Dutch newspaper Telegraaf wrote yesterday.

ASML, crucial to the Dutch economy and employment, is considering expanding abroad in response to phasing out regulations for knowledge migrants. With more than 21,000 employees in the Netherlands, 40 percent of whom are international talent, the government is looking for ways to prevent ASML’s departure.

Why this is important:

ASML is a world-class company and provides jobs for thousands of people. The outgoing cabinet is secretly working on a plan to keep the tech giant in the Netherlands, the Telegraaf revealed yesterday.

In the shadow of public debate, the Dutch government is waging a battle critical to the future of the high-tech industry within our borders. The stakes? The preservation of ASML, one of the world’s most advanced chip machine manufacturers, is thus an essential pillar of the Dutch knowledge economy.

The heart of the matter

ASML is headquartered in Veldhoven and is an industry heavyweight with more than 42,000 employees worldwide. Half of these employees live in the Netherlands, with a significant proportion coming from abroad. This international talent is invaluable to ASML, but regulations for knowledge migrants are being phased out. This makes it more difficult for the company to attract and retain these crucial workers. The result? ASML is considering moving some of its operations to other countries, such as France.

‘Beethoven’: the secret operation

To avoid this scenario, the outgoing cabinet is now working on the secret operation “Beethoven. According to the Telegraaf, several ministries are working together to reconsider ASML’s position and create safeguards to keep the company in the Netherlands. The exact content of these plans has not been disclosed, but they illustrate the urgency and importance the government attaches to keeping ASML.

ASML would not comment on the report in De Telegraaf. An EZK spokesman would only say that “in the interest of Dutch society, the economy, and employment,” the government has regular contact with companies.

ASML’s impact

The possible relocation of ASML components would be a sensitive blow to the Dutch economy. The company is an essential link in the global semiconductor production chain. ASML’s machines are indispensable for the production of chips, forming the basis for virtually all modern electronics. A departure would affect employment and the Netherlands’ position as a leader in high-tech innovation.

ASML’s concerns about the Dutch business climate are not new. Back in January, then-Chairman Peter Wennink expressed his concerns. He emphasized that if the company cannot grow in the Netherlands, it will be forced to move abroad. Although there are no advanced plans to relocate, the message is clear: ASML wants to retain the ability to grow, and the current restrictions on knowledge migrants are an obstacle.

The international dimension

The dilemma facing ASML and the Netherlands is part of a more significant international shift. Worldwide, countries are competing for technology companies and the jobs they provide. Providing an attractive business climate, including access to international talent, is fundamental to this. Countries that fail in this risk falling behind in the global race for technological innovation.

The situation surrounding ASML shows that the Netherlands is at a crossroads. The choices now being made could have far-reaching consequences for the position of the Netherlands on the world stage of technology and innovation. It is a delicate balance between protecting national interests and facilitating an environment where international companies can flourish.