- Jessica Parker
- BBC Reporter – Brussels
The European Union (EU) is preparing to announce details of a global investment plan that could be seen as a reflection of China’s “Belt and Road” initiative.
Those familiar with the project expressed that it presents “practical” ideas in the fields of digitalization, transportation, environment and energy.
The plan is seen as an attempt by Western nations to counter Chinese influence in Africa and the rest of the world.
On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen will present the “Global Gateway” initiative.
The EU is currently looking at how to raise billions from member states, financial institutions and the private sector to fund the project.
“We want to invest in quality infrastructure, transportation, trade routes and services around the world,” Van der Leyen said in a speech to the Commission last September.
The 14-page document, which will be announced on Wednesday, is not a strategic plan to confront China. When asked about its plan on Tuesday, the commission cautiously avoided mentioning China.
But Andor Samuel, a researcher at US-European relations at the German Marshall Center in the United States, believes the link between the two is inevitable: the “Global Gateway” project would not have been possible without it. The so-called “Belt and Road” effort.
He describes the plan as “the first serious European effort to allocate funds to establish alternatives and establish financing mechanisms for countries seeking to borrow from China.”
China has taken the “Belt and Road” initiative as the basis of its foreign policy by improving its trade relations by injecting funds into the construction of roads, ports, railways and bridges.
The strategy extended to Asia, the Indo-Pacific, Africa and even the EU’s neighbors in the Western Balkans.
Some critics accuse China of using “debt trap” diplomacy to dominate poor countries, borrowing from them to complete big projects.
But others say large-scale borrowing is rarely risk-free, and that China has provided these countries with money that other countries do not.
In both cases, China’s economic and geopolitical influence in the world is growing amid growing tensions with the West.
The EU is now trying to mobilize its resources and energy into a conflict, Samol describes as a difficult test.
In his view, the question is whether the EU can move out of this geopolitical space or whether it is a difficult place to get caught up in bureaucratic conflicts. He believes that failure in this endeavor will have dire consequences.
“The EU’s strengthening its influence in the region is a positive sign,” one ambassador told me.
“This is a common interest between us and our friends across the Atlantic in the United States and the United Kingdom,” he added.
But common interests also lead to competition, says Scott Morris, a researcher at the International Development Center.
The United States has its own initiative to “rebuild a better world” as announced at the G7 summit last June. Morrison sees this as “a quiet place where a lot of initiatives collide”.
But he has “hope” that this “global gateway” initiative will succeed. “This is an opportunity to provide a larger amount of funding to Europe than to be a competitor to China, which can do something favorable to developing countries that need capital,” he says.
Van der Leyen will present the plan after it is approved by the European Commission.
The EU has clearly emphasized that its initiative is “based on principles” and “transparency”, and that its purpose is to “build relations, not dependencies”.
But the problem is one of influence. The Commission seeks ways to keep its muscles flexible at the geopolitical stage, and then ensures the strength of these muscles.
“Creator. Award-winning problem solver. Music evangelist. Incurable introvert.”
Iraq’s security media deny the disappearance of Hisham al-Hashemi’s killer
Agreement in Sudan.. Barrages will join forces with army within 5 days
The movie that scared Americans…the ghost of a little girl staring at the camera