The European Commission will introduce its strategy of the Global Gateway plan later this week, on Wednesday November 17, 2021.
The Global Gateway plan was firstly introduced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her speech on September 15, 2021. It is aimed at boosting Europe’s interests and competitiveness around the world, especially through technology and infrastructure, while promoting sustainable environmental standards and democratic values and the rule of law.
While the specifics of the initiative are yet to be revealed during November 2021, its understanding is to be an umbrella brand for the already extensive investment from the EU and its member states in infrastructure worldwide. Moreover, the EU demonstrates the recognition of the geopolitical relevance of investments in global connectivity. The new plan aims at better coordination and cooperation between international and regional partners in terms of projects funding. The Global Gateway initiative is an opportunity to strengthen ties between the EU and Africa, but also for example in the Western Balkan region to avoid an increase in influence by non-EU great powers.
The Global Gateway may provide an opportunity for both the EU and the China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to complement each other by providing an alternative framework. The BRI, formerly known as One Belt One Road, is a strategy lauched in 2013 that aims to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via sea and land with the goal of strengthening trade, policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, economic growth, and regional integration. As of November 2021, 139 countries had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China on the BRI. China emphasizes the benefits of BRI especially for developing countries however it has enlisted countries of all income levels to join the initiative. In fact, twenty-six low income countries and thirty-nine lower middle income countries have joined the initiative, accounting for just under half of all the participants. Contrary, forty-one upper middle income countries and thirty-three high income countries, accounting for over half of the BRI participants, have signed on. Examples of BRI infrastructure investments include railroads, roads, bridges, ports, skyscrapers, airports, dams, coal-fired power stations, and railroad tunnels.
Recently, in June 2021, the initiative called Build Black Better World (B3W) has been launched by G7 countries. Besides G7 members, it has extended invitations to join to other countries, such as India, Australia, South Korea, and South Africa. The B3W initiative will invest $40 trillion to infrastructure projects in developing countries by 2035. The B3W efforts are in line with the standards and principles of another initiative, the Blue Dot Network (BDN), launched by Australia, Japan and USA, in November 2019. These two initiatives together with the Global Gateway are being recognized as alternatives to BRI, demonstrating an era of great-power competition. All three initiatives are in early stage of its existence therefore the specific strategic plan and the reality of intended cooperation will reveal more.