It seems the time has come for France and Germany to formally endorse the China proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
As the Eurozone’s third largest economy, Italy is reportedly negotiating a preliminary deal to become the first G7 country to take part in the BRI. Such a move will have a demonstration effect for persuading other EU countries, France and Germany included, to consider adopting a more open attitude toward the BRI.
If Italy, France and Germany are willing to take part in the BRI, EU countries’ presence in the BRI framework will soon be beefed up. The three major EU economies share common goals and interests on issues related to the BRI. They are likely to remain in agreement with each other in their general policies if they join the framework. Their entry will introduce more EU elements into the BRI framework, as the framework adjusts itself to adapt to the European standard.
We hope major EU economies can achieve a unified policy toward the BRI. As for some issues concerning infrastructure investment and policies, China now has to consider all these states’ different national and economic interests. A more integrated economic policy adopted by powerful EU members will improve cooperation efficiency among China and other BRI members.
France has expressed its wish to cooperate with China in concrete programs under the BRI. As for Germany, many of its companies expect new business opportunities from expanding links with the BRI, although government officials have a mixed attitude toward the initiative. China and Germany can still work out their differences by reducing their trade imbalance and promoting bilateral investment. If the three major EU economies join the BRI, closer ties under the BRI framework will be a positive factor for EU economic integration.
One reason why China promotes cooperation with the 16 Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) is to foster the integration of the CEEC, rather than splitting the EU camp. We hope that the BRI can serve as a platform to promote policy integration from another direction of the European continent and eventually increase the coordination of EU members.
With “America First” as the guiding principle of US President Donald Trump, China, the EU and Mexico will all have problems because of Trump’s protectionism. We cannot focus solely on dealing with the US to address the trade conflict. The economic integration that can bring prosperity to China and European countries needs more attention.