If Europe is to compete with China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative, it needs clear ambitions

It’s better to be late than nothing, and it’s better to be late than nothing.If it’s just grumpy, it will be right Global gateway, EU Infrastructure Investment Plan Launched last Wednesday Confronting China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative with self-evident intentions.

The plan fulfilled the promise of Ursula von der Lein, President of the European Commission, Make In her September State of the Union speech. Her reasoning was, “It doesn’t make sense for Europe to build a perfect road between China’s copper mines and China’s ports. When it comes to this type of investment, we have to become smarter.”

I suggested at the time We should judge initiative on three things. Will it be big enough to compete with the “Belt and Road Initiative”? Will it be limited to supporting infrastructure “hardware”, or will it seek to share the EU’s institutional “software”, that is, the rules and regulations that promote economic integration? Third, the lighter but not unimportant thing of a more inspiring name. (Project Marco Polo? Magellan Network?)

The name is stuck. What about the other two tests?

In terms of scale, Brussels promised to provide 300 billion euros in seven years. Cynics point to the financial engineering behind this figure, which includes the “mobilization” of funds from private investors from the European Union’s own much smaller shares. The objection is fair, but if infrastructure worth 300 billion euros is really built, this objection is not important. The problem is not the source of funds, but the amount of funds.

In the mid-2000s, this payment will be a promise to change the rules of the game. This was enough when Chinese President Xi Jinping first announced the “Project of the Century” in 2013. Today, compared with the “Belt and Road” initiative, which funded more than US$100 billion per year before the pandemic, its proportion seems to be low.

Although it is not fully qualified for this task, if all is achieved, 300 billion euros can still buy you a lot of things. And every euro will have a bigger impact, because the EU is indeed adding its software to its hardware.

This is clearly stated in the new plan. The design of infrastructure projects will “strengthen integration” with EU data privacy and digital competition rules, as well as with European transportation standards.

this is necessary. If the EU wants to go beyond the “Belt and Road” initiative, it has no choice but to try to shape its foreign economic relations in its own image. This is at stake, although European leaders rarely say that.

Brussels’ mantra is “link, not rely”.This is understandable: dependency is created by the BRI project in the form of debt or data capture, just like the UK’s New spy chief highlightsIn fact, the focus of the Global Gateway is to provide countries with a “nice” alternative trap.

But this is misleading.The EU wants – and should Want-create dependencies. Regulatory integration does this, just as Global Gateway’s stated goal of “strengthening digital, transportation and energy networks” and provides “supply chain integration”. After all, this is why Beijing pursues a similar goal: to tilt all economic relations toward China and adapt to its norms.

The EU’s creed must be that not all interdependencies are equal. Connecting oneself with Europe is more conducive to achieving freedom and prosperity than dedicating itself to the “Belt and Road” initiative.

In addition to the necessary financial burden, there are two other things that are needed to make this doctrine a reality. One is a clear vision of how the bits fit together. Now Global Gateway looks like a list of unrelated construction sites. But what is the shape of the network that these projects intend to build—if there is such an intention?

If the goal is to build an international economy centered on the European Union, then it would be more honest to say this and make the initiative better coordinated.

That would be a good goal. But the other missing part is the proper expression of the role of partner countries in this EU-centric network-this is the formal model for countries to establish physical, legal and institutional links with the EU market. Providing a deeper connection than the trade agreement provides, but not as comprehensive as a complete single market member, is enough to attract many countries to reject Beijing’s infrastructure subsidies.

Economic gravity is like physical gravity. For small celestial bodies, it determines their possible orbit. For large companies, it is the power to attract others. Europe is a large group of small and medium countries, and is still learning what economic scale means.

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