Checkpoint Asia

EU Is Now Pretending New Silk Road Was Its Idea all Along

They'll cooperate with China's Belt and Road all right, they'll just pretend its part of their own thing

Pepe Escobar on how EU and China — in marked contrast to Trump’s attempted intimidation tactics — nonetheless managed to hammer out an agreement to govern their future trade links:

In theory, there’s agreement on three quite sensitive fronts: a complex, wide-ranging EU-China investment deal to be signed “by the end of next year, or earlier”, according to Li; Beijing to increasingly commit to erasing industrial subsidies and the obligation of technological transfers; and a substantial opening-up of the Chinese market to EU companies.

Departing from concentric circles of posturing, the EU did not even blast China as a “systemic rival” – following the recent report EU-China: A Strategic Outlook. And there were no accusations of “unfair” trade hurled at Beijing.

Crucially, Brussels and Beijing seem to be finally engaging in building some sort of synergy between the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and something only Eurocrats know actually exists – the EU Connecting Europe and Asia project, which in theory should advance in conjunction with the Trans-European Transport Network – a rail, road and air connectivity drive.

Yeah, the EU is now pretending it has a project to link Europe and Asia all of its own. They can now de facto sign up for the Belt and Road and say it’s also a part of their own thing they got going. Well, whatever allows you to save face.

It’s a face-saving measure Brussels is going to need if it intends to catch up with the ex-Socialist eastern half of the Union which doesn’t share in western apprehension of China and welcomed it without waiting for Brussels approval, years ago. And hasn’t had any regrets — if anything the disappointment has been the Chinese haven’t moved in with more money and projects:

From Beijing’s perspective, this spectacular trade and diplomatic victory smoothes the path towards the China and Central and Eastern Europe 16+1 summit in Dubrovnik on Friday. Of the European 16, no less than 11 are EU member states, while five are Western Balkans members.

Slowly but surely, EU decisions are fast becoming integrated with the 16+1. Brussels Eurocrats actually examined the draft of deals that will be signed at the 16+1 summit in Dubrovnik. Unlike France, for instance, most of the 16+1 are enthusiastic participants in BRI – which, not by accident, is the star of the show, especially after Italy signed a memorandum of understanding to join New Silk Road projects last month.