Commission chief von der Leyen: big plans
Photo: OLIVIER HOSLET / EPA
The European Union wants to exert a greater global influence by investing billions in the infrastructure of emerging and developing countries.
The project rivals China's plans for a "New Silk Road", which the People's Republic has been working on in many countries for years.
As Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced in Brussels, the new initiative called Global Gateway will provide up to 300 billion euros over the next six years.
For example, there are plans to generate energy with climate-neutral hydrogen in Africa and a new underwater cable connection to transport data between the EU and Latin America.
Support for schools and education systems is also planned.
The background to this is the rapidly growing influence of China, which is investing heavily in international infrastructure projects with its initiative for a "New Silk Road". For this reason, states like Germany have long been urging the EU to become more involved in this sector. Critics of the "New Silk Road" launched in 2013 regularly warn poor countries of a debt trap, political dependency and a lack of environmental protection.
Business representatives expressed their optimism that the EU project can make a difference. "The financing commitments and announced investments make the European Global Gateway strategy a serious alternative to the Chinese Silk Road Initiative," said Wolfgang Niedermark from the Federation of German Industries (BDI). The Chinese infrastructure offers are often without competition. It is high time to offer offers based on European standards.
The President of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peter Adrian, made a similar statement.
The initiative comes at the right time.
The decisive factor now is that the new federal government quickly becomes a positive stimulus for EU trade policy.
Agreements in Latin America, in the Indo-Pacific and in the EU neighborhood could strengthen the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises in particular.
He alluded to the fact that the free trade agreement with the South American confederation Mercosur is currently on hold due to political resistance.
Billions in grants
The up to 300 billion euros from the new global gateway initiative should flow by the end of 2027.
According to the plans, up to 135 billion euros of the total will be mobilized through the Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD +) and 145 billion euros through other European financial institutions.
In addition, grants of up to 18 billion euros are to come from EU programs that are not financed by the EFSD +.
mic / dpa-afx