Why Europe Needs its Own 'OBOR'
Having failed to show a united front vis-à-vis the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB) in 2015, the European Union (EU) and its member states now have the chance to improve their track record of defending shared European interests. China’s flagship ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) initiative in particular provides impetus to develop a strategically coordinated European economic diplomacy.
Following a broad overview of the ongoing economic diplomacy dynamics at the EU level, this Clingendael Policy Brief assesses OBOR’s strategic relevance, shedding light on the key challenges and opportunities that it presents for Europe, institutionally and normatively.
The EU–China Connectivity Platform is highlighted as Europe’s most advanced response to Beijing’s economic diplomacy drive. As Europe’s engagement with China goes well beyond the Platform, however, the EU and its member states need to cultivate more tools and levers to unleash their joint vision and structured response to China’s activism. This includes the formulation of clear and parsimonious goals as well as a coherent message, prioritizing feasibility over normative ambitions, and making better use of non-governmental channels.