The EU’s plan to invest €300bn (£255bn) in global infrastructure will be better than China’s belt and road initiative, the European Commission president has said, as she announced a strategy to boost technology and public services in developing countries, The Guardian reports.
EU Launches €300bn Fund to Challenge China’s Influence
STEPANAKERT, DECEMBER 2, ARTSAKHPRESS: Ursula von der Leyen said the EU’s global gateway strategy was a positive offer for infrastructure development around the world and based on democratic values and transparency.
China’s belt and road initiative, often described as a 21st-century silk road, has enabled Beijing to extend its international influence by investing in more than 70 countries, accounting for half the world’s population and a quarter of GDP. Forecast to cost up to $1.3tn, it has helped countries in Asia, Africa and eastern Europe to get railways and ports connecting them to China, while often becoming heavily indebted to Beijing.
Von der Leyen, who came to office pledging to lead “a geopolitical commission”, said countries did not have enough options on finding investment for big infrastructure projects.
“When it comes to investment choices, they are currently relatively limited. And the few options that exist too often come with a lot of small print, which includes big consequences, be it financially, politically, but also often socially.”
China launched the belt and road initiative in 2013, but Von der Leyen was bullish that the EU could close the gap, although European spending was forecast to remain lower than the Chinese equivalent. “Yes definitely we are able to do that,” she said when asked.
“Countries [had] their experience with the Chinese investments and they need better and different offers,” she said, adding that the EU plan was “a true alternative”.