Europeans definitely do not have a very strong sense of marketing. When China deploys its “new silk roads” all over the world to gain influence, the European Commission baptizes its competing project, “Global Gateway”, “global portal” in French! The choice of words does not let it guess, but the community strategy, presented on Wednesday 1is December, is indeed a European response to the initiative of Beijing, which, since 2013, has invested tens of billions of euros in ports, roads and other bridges on all continents.
It aims to mobilize up to 300 billion euros of public and private funds by 2027 in infrastructure projects outside the European Union (EU), in the neighboring countries of the Western Balkans, in Africa, but also in South America or Asia. “Investments in digital technology, health, the climate, the energy and transport sectors, as well as education and research will be a priority”, underlines the Commission.
Respect for the rule of law
Essentially, its plan is based on programs that already exist but whose funds will be redirected. The money will be made available in the form of loans from the European Investment Bank, with the guarantee of the EU, and European public financial institutions, such as the French Development Agency (AFD) in France or the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KFW) in Germany. The Twenty-Seven will contribute, via the Community budget, to the tune of 18 billion euros in aid.
The countries where these investments financed with EU aid will be made will have to respect “The rule of law, standards in terms of human rights, social, workers’ rights”, specifies the Commission. “We want to show that an approach based on democratic values can work”, explained its president, Ursula von der Leyen, and benefit both Europeans and their partners.
“European officials feared they would end up investing money in white elephants, this gigantic and unnecessary infrastructure”, explains a European source
The Commission had launched a comparable strategy, aimed at Asia, in 2018. But Jean-Claude Juncker, then at the head of the institution, had not sufficiently carried it politically and it was lost in the Brussels machine: to date, it has made it possible to finance 9.6 billion euros of investments … “European officials feared that they would end up investing money in white elephants, this gigantic and unnecessary infrastructure, or that European funds would be misappropriated.”, explains a European source.
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