Global battle of offers

The global gap in investments between high-income countries and low- and middle-income countries has been widening in recent years, even more so due to the “polycrisis” caused by the pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Among other things, this lack of funding represents an opportunity for the major players to expand their geopolitical sphere of influence, with infrastructure at the centre of attention. We could have observed the strategies of some countries implemented through major investment programmes, such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched by China, Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) launched by the US, the UK’s Clean Green Initiative, Japan’s Partnership for Quality Infrastructure and the India-Middle East Economic Corridor (IMEC). In particular, China and the US have moved faster than the EU, which in December 2021 launched its own strategy, the Global Gateway, to support global connectivity and respond to the BRI, among others, which has shaken EU unity for the past decade.

On 14 December, the EESC adopted an own-initiative opinion on the “Global battle of offers – from the Chinese Belt and Road initiative to the EU Global Gateway: the vision of European organised civil society”. I am pleased to have been able to contribute to this opinion, in which the EESC emphasizes, among other things, that:

  • The EESC welcomes the EU’s decision to promote the principle of the open strategic autonomy of the EU, and the launch of the Global Gateway initiative, which will strengthen economic and political ties with the EU’s partner countries, enabling the EU to compete effectively in the provision of infrastructure on a global level.
  • The EESC stresses how important it is that the Global Gateway investment programmes are based on an impact assessment to take into account aspects of strategic geopolitical relevance and ensure, among others, the economic, social and environmental sustainability of projects.
  • The EESC emphasises the need for the relevant European bodies to ensure detailed information and full access to Global Gateway projects and the parties involved.
  • The EESC suggests the creation of a one-stop-shop at EU representations to promote private sector investment and involve all economic and social stakeholders at regional and local level.
  • The EESC points out that there is still a significant lack of clarity regarding the nature of the BRI and the criteria for including projects. It is essential that China provides accurate and up-to-date information on the investment programmes related to the BRI. The EESC considers it essential to improve coordination between the EU institutions and its Member States on the BRI in order to avoid fragmentation of relations with China.

As a member of the study group which worked on this opinion, I supported the concept of OPEN strategic autonomy and the EU´s competitiveness among the key objectives that must be guaranteed by the BRI and Global Gateway projects. Regarding China, I also advocated better coordination within the EU and better communication between both sides, which is reflected in the opinion. It is also crucial to ensure proper communication about the opportunities of the Global Gateway initiative in order to contribute to its success and the role of the EU as a geopolitical power.

Jana Hartman Radová, EESC Member of Employers’ Group and Head of Brussels Office


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