China’s foreign direct investment landscape is steadily increasing in the European Union and with it China’s political influence.
In July 2018, leaders of Central and Eastern European countries met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.
The summit focused on economic cooperation and increased investment in the Western Balkans.
Earlier, on May 17, 2018, at the EU Summit – Western Balkans, the European Union shared its commitment to the Western Balkan countries and reaffirmed its commitment to “continue to strengthen relations, regional stability and mutual cooperation”. The summit was followed by the China-CEEC summit, also called the 16 + 1 cooperation format, during which Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced the opening of a € 3 billion credit line for projects in China. Central and Eastern Europe.
Skeptical voices are emerging about China’s growing influence in Europe and the Western Balkans, which is reflected primarily in huge investments in national infrastructure projects.
The concerns about the Western Balkans do not relate to the investments themselves, but rather to compliance with EU standards and requirements for financial lending – which is therefore an obstacle to the process of accession to the EU. EU Western Balkans Six – Albania, Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has no objection to Chinese investments because “we are committed to free trade,” she said at a joint press conference with the Macedonian Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev.
In July, the Polish member of the European Parliament, Adam Szejnfeld, asked questions about the measures taken by the European Commission regarding the risks associated with China’s activity in the Western Balkans. Legal clarity and transparency now represent the main risks associated with such Chinese investments in the Western Balkans.
Regarding the Western Balkans, the European Commission has stated that “such investments are not always implemented in accordance with the obligations of the beneficiaries vis-à-vis the European Union”. Thus, while the Commission frequently calls on the candidate countries for the accession of the Balkan countries to the European Union to improve the rule of law, transparency in the management of public funds and the reform of public administration, at the same time does not provide affordable funding to these countries, China must distribute the money and influence the political agenda.
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