In a move that may change the Chinese trade hegemony, the European Union (EU) is ready with a blueprint that is widely seen as a rival to China’s Belt and Road initiative. The EU is likely to reveal details of a global investment plan soon.
The move is seen as part of the West’s efforts to counter Chinese influence in Africa and elsewhere. European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen will present the ‘Global Gateway’ initiative on late Wednesday.
The EU is looking at how it can leverage billions of euros, drawn from member states, financial institutions, and the private sector, a report said. Von der Leyen said in her State of the Union speech in September: “We want investments in quality infrastructure, connecting goods, people and services around the world.”
Meanwhile, Wednesday’s 14-page document isn’t likely to explicitly pitch itself as a rival to China’s strategy. The Commission also studiously avoided mentioning China when pressed about the plans on Tuesday, the report said.
But Andrew Small, a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, believes that the backdrop is inescapable: “Global Gateway wouldn’t exist if you didn’t have Belt and Road.”
For him it marks “the first serious effort from the European side to put packages together and figure out financing mechanisms, so countries considering taking loans from China have an alternative option,” the BBC report said.
Belt and Road have been a centre-piece of Chinese foreign policy; developing trade links by ploughing money into new roads, ports, railways and bridges. The strategy has reached into Asia, the Indo-Pacific, Africa, and even into the EU’s nearer neighbours in the Western Balkans.