Hopefully the name will make more sense. China’s much-discussed Belt and Road Initiative, seeking to create and strengthen land and maritime infrastructure across Eurasia, has attracted a lot of criticism for saddling low-income countries in its path with lots of debt and not much benefit. Now it may also be attracting imitators, at least in its general scope and aims, if not its questionable approach, according to Bloomberg. The proposed initiative would funnel EU funds to Africa to spur economic growth through construction of infrastructure and related development projects.
- The proposal, written by a panel of experts and circulated among EU diplomats, would aim to encourage economic growth in Africa in order to create more opportunities in low-income countries there, thus lessening the migratory pressure on Europe.
- Rather than calling for major new spending or loans, much of the initiative could be funded by simply gathering existing European aid commitments and focusing them on coordinated projects, the report asserts. Much of this could be accomplished by aligning the work of two existing banks, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
- The EU could also create an entirely new development bank, similar to China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, one of the main forces behind the BRI.
- The project would also help European countries keep pace with China in the race to develop African economies.