Dr Karine Lisbonne de Vergeron’s latest article ‘The New Silk Roads: European Perceptions and Perspectives’ was published in the December edition of the academic journal, International Studies.
The focus of this article is on European perceptions and attitudes towards the New Silk Roads or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The New Silk Roads is neither a formal policy nor a clearly defined geographical or geopolitical strategy, rather it is an evolving narrative. These perceptions have been partly shaped by the importance of the EU–China bilateral relation as well as European plans towards Asian connectivity. Europe’s developing strategic approach towards Eurasia has also affected these views as well as national prerogatives. Since 2017, a more coordinated European approach has evolved. The EU greatly welcomes Chinese initiatives of increasing investments in cross-border infrastructure with the view that it should adhere to market rules, international financial and environmental norms. Through BRI, China has focused more on Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Mediterranean region. Some of the projects have led to concerns over the possibility of diluting European political unity or investments rules. There is, however, much room for greater political coordination among European countries, notably by being more proactive in promoting, for example, the infrastructure projects which the EU has already financed in CEE and by generally seeking to promote the EU–Asia connectivity plans.