EU announces global infrastructure plan to rival China's 'Belt and Road'
The European Union’s foreign ministers agreed on Monday to launch an infrastructure plan that would link the bloc to the world, rivaling China’s ‘Belt and Road’’ initiative.
The “connectivity” plan will begin in 2022 according to the EU’s ambitious formal path.
"We see China using economic and financial means to increase its political influence everywhere in the world. It's useless moaning about this, we must offer alternatives," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters at a meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels.
"It is important that the European Union [...] coordinates them very closely with the United States," he said.
The EU has already signed partnerships with Japan and India to coordinate transport, energy and digital projects linking Europe and Asia.
According to Reuters, the plan is in response to suspicions regarding the aims of Chinese infrastructure initiatives around the world. Both Japan and India are concerned about the Belt and Road initiative because it forces countries to take on large debts, leaving them beholden to China.
This is the case of Montenegro, which borrowed nearly $1bn from China in 2014 to fund a 41-km (25-mile) stretch of road, a sum that has threatened to bankrupt the country.
Since 2013, China has launched construction projects across more than 60 countries.