China and the European Union have leverage to expand synergies between the Belt and Road Initiative and the bloc’s regional strategy across Eurasia, a senior EU official said.
“There are clear interlinkages between the Belt and Road Initiative and the future Euro-Asian Connectivity Strategy,” said Luca Jahier, president of the European Economic and Social Committee at the 16th EU-China Civil Society Round Table, held this week in Varna, Bulgaria.
“If executed in the right way, more investment in public infrastructure links between us would unleash growth potential with benefits for all.”
It was first time a senior EU official had offered such an expansion of synergy following the agreement several years ago between China and the EU to cooperate under the Belt and Road and the multibillion-euro European Investment Scheme.
The Euro-Asian Connectivity Strategy will be the EU’s new regional initiative to boost linkages between the 28-member bloc and Asia.
Though Jahier did not go into detail on how the two sides could deepen cooperation, China and the EU are expected to discuss the possibility at the annual summit set for Beijing this year.
China sent a delegation, headed by Yang Chonghui, vice-president of the China Economic and Social Council, to attend the roundtable.
The two sides signed a declaration to be submitted to the upcoming summit.
They noted with deep concern the announcement by the administration of United States President Donald Trump of unilateral import tariffs, warning that the tariffs could lead to the undermining of the rule-based multilateral trading system.
They also expressed profound concern that this not only disrupts world trade but also seriously undermines the World Trade Organization and multilateral trading system.
“The EU and China must work together to safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the WTO,” the declaration was cited as saying.