The EU is seeking to mobilize 300 billion euros (US$340 billion) in public and private infrastructure investments by 2027 to offer developing countries an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The EU’s “Global Gateway” project, unveiled yesterday, outlines spending on digital infrastructure, transport, energy and health projects.
While the proposal does not mention China directly, it offers a counter to Beijing’s overseas development plan that critics say has pushed countries to unsustainable levels of indebtedness.
“The EU will offer its financing under fair and favorable terms in order to limit the risk of debt distress,” the European Commission said in a statement.
Partners would need to adhere “to the rule of law, upholding high standards of human, social and workers’ rights, and respecting norms from international rules and standards to intellectual property,” the statement said.
To finance the project, the EU would use its European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus, which can make available 40 billion euros in guarantee capacity, and would offer grants of up to 18 billion euros from external assistance programs.
The program would seek to “crowd-in private capital” to boost investments, the final draft said.
The EU faces an uphill challenge in competing with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as the bloc is starting late, just like the US, and Beijing’s program is a trillion-dollar initiative to finance infrastructure projects across the developing world.
Jutta Urpilainen, the EU commissioner in charge of development policy, yesterday told reporters that the bloc’s development assistance rivaled that of Beijing, adding: “We have been providing grants, China has provided lending.”
The plan seeks to bolster sustainable environmental standards and values, such as democracy and human rights.
“Global Gateway has the potential to turn the EU into a more effective geopolitical player,” German Ambassador to the EU Michael Clauss said. “For many partner countries, the offer of a rules and values-based cooperation at eye level will be an attractive alternative to the Chinese Belt and Road initiative.”
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