The European Fund for Sustainable Development (OFSD+) has agreed to release €6 billion for 40 infrastructure projects in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific. The European Commission expects that this step will trigger further private investments worth 50 billion euros in selected areas. The European Parliament is dealing with this vision during the current plenary session.
“I welcome this step of the European Commission, but I must add in one breath that it is far from enough. China provided foreign loans for 400 billion dollars in 2014-2018. Its One Belt One Road initiative helps to build infrastructure projects such as highways, tunnels, railways, bridges, dams, coal-fired power plants, etc., but at the same time they destroy the finances of individual states and, above all, take a serious toll in the form of threats for human rights and the rule of law,” explains Slovak MEP Miriam Lexmann (KDH/EĽS) as a result of Chinese investments and the insufficient European response.
As an example, he cites Montenegro, which almost went bankrupt after the construction of a highway by the Chinese, and was saved only by financial support from the EU. In Serbia, the investments of this Asian country led to serious environmental pollution. “Elsewhere, Chinese projects have been marked by corruption or problems with compliance with the rule of law. It is also necessary to emphasize that, in the end, these projects have no added value even for the local population or the country itself, since Chinese companies often use their own workforce and suppliers,” Miriam Lexmann adds to the calculation of the negative effects of Chinese investments.
The goal of the European strategy called Global Gateway is to mobilize investments of approximately 300 billion euros by 2027. Considering it’s 2023, Lexmann sees little progress so far.
“We must realize that generating sufficient investment for infrastructure programs is as much a matter of protecting our European values as it is of strengthening our interests and security globally. At the same time, one of the most effective ways to deal with mass migration from Africa is to support economic development, taking into account the security risks of these countries, so that people can find work, get resources to take care of their families and feel safe in their homeland,” emphasizes Miriam Lexmann, which is necessary for the success of the announced EU investments in Africa and other countries.
The Global Gateway initiative focuses on investments in transport, healthcare, energy, digitization, research and education, but also the environment. The goal is to deliver projects to third countries in the highest social, societal, environmental and transparent standard, which we also use in the EU.
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