Europe versus Beijing
How “Global Gateway” is competing with China
By Andrea Sellmann and Mary Abelaziz-Ditzow
2/9/2023, 2:13 p.m
It’s late, but it’s coming: the European initiative for the new Chinese Silk Road is called “Global Gateway”. Europe also wants to implement infrastructure projects worth billions in developing and emerging countries and offer a real alternative to China.
Green hydrogen and critical raw materials are considered important building blocks for the energy transition in Germany. And are therefore a promising target for investments, for example in Namibia. The EU Commission is also aiming for a corresponding partnership with the country as part of “Global Gateway” and is placing a strong focus on renewable energies in its mega-project.
“Global Gateway” is the European answer to China’s new Silk Road: the EU Commission wants to mobilize 300 billion euros by 2027 to set up infrastructure projects in emerging and developing countries. The costs are spread across different pots. Part of the investments will be borne by the EU budget. And development banks are also involved in the project. A novelty: for the first time, private companies are also being recruited as investors. A first flagship project is to be implemented in Namibia this year. At the end of January, a delegation of EU commissioners was in the country to flesh out the plans.
Not only European investors should benefit from “Global Gateway”, but also the respective partner country. This should create jobs for the local population, transfer know-how and comply with environmental standards. For the German EU Ambassador Michael Clauss, that is exactly a central difference to the new Silk Road: Although the Chinese have made improvements since the start ten years ago, he says in the podcast “Wirtschaft Welt & Weit”. But Clauss, who was still working as ambassador to China at the time, still considers the project to be “Sinocentric, that is, geared towards Chinese interests.”
Connecting the Balkans and North Africa with other countries
The investments in the new Silk Road are three times as high as the sum that is to flow into “Global Gateway” in just under five years. And above all, China has long since created facts, while the EU has so far mainly discussed. But now Europe’s “gate to the world” is beginning to open.
“Global Gateway” wants to promote hydrogen projects not only in Namibia, but also in Egypt and Kazakhstan. An electricity corridor is to be created in the Balkans to ensure the transport of energy over long distances and different countries. And investments are also to be made in the expansion of a fiber optic cable in order to better connect North Africa with the Mediterranean countries. Health projects in Africa are also on the agenda.
The European initiative is geopolitical. Clauss sees it not only as a reaction to the new Silk Road, but also as an answer to the challenges of our time: the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has clearly exposed Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. And before that, the corona pandemic and the associated supply chain problems had already made it clear how vulnerable the networked global economy can be.
“China will continue to play an important role for European and also for German companies,” assures Clauss. “But we have also seen the risks involved.” “Global Gateway” is an opportunity for Europe to reduce this dependency and expand its trade contacts.
What does Germany have to do in order to still play an important role in the economic world of tomorrow? Who are we dependent on? Which countries benefit from the new world situation? Mary Abdelaziz-Ditzow discusses this in the ntv podcast “Wirtschaft Welt & Weit” with relevant experts.
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