Brussels announced on Wednesday 1er December want to mobilize up to 300 billion euros of public and private funds by 2027 in infrastructure projects around the world; or the European response to the growing influence of China.
Fiber optic networks, transport infrastructure, clean energy networks… The project, called “Global Gateway”, will bring together resources from the European Union, the 27 Member States, European financial institutions and national development institutions, as well as private sector investment to better connect Europe with the rest of the world.
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the “digital, health, climate, the energy and transport sectors, as well as education and research, will be a priority”, underlined the Commission, which took care not to mention China in its communication, even if its project will compete with the strategy of the “New Silk Roads”. Facing Beijing, Brussels intends to embody a more virtuous model in terms of human rights. “We want projects that are implemented with a high level of transparency, good governance and quality”, said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, during a press conference.
An alternative to the “New Silk Roads”
In 2013, Beijing launched its “New Silk Roads” global investment strategy, a flagship project of President Xi Jinping. Officially called “the Belt and Road”, it aims to develop land and sea infrastructure to better connect China to Asia, Europe and Africa. The Middle Kingdom has already committed nearly 140 billion dollars (124 billion euros) of investments there, according to its official data.
Westerners see it as a tool for China’s influence on poor countries. They criticize Beijing for encouraging emerging countries to over-indebtedness, criticize non-transparent calls for tenders, suspect corrupt practices and denounce the non-respect of human, social and environmental rights.
“Global Gateway” is part of a plan by the G7 countries to offer developing countries an alternative to the “New Silk Roads”, a plan presented in June at the summit of the seven industrial powers in Cornwall (Kingdom -United). That “will allow us to compete with China where necessary, (…) while working for the strategic autonomy of the EU”, said Polish MEP Radek Sikorski on Twitter. With this funding, the EU also hopes to tackle the vulnerabilities of its global supply chains revealed by the pandemic.