EU’s “Global Gateway” Exposed From the Inside as a Flop

As we pointed out from the beginning, the EU’s “Global Gateway Initiative” (GGI), designed to compete with China’s Belt and Road policy, was an empty shell doomed to fail (cf. SAS 38/21, 7, 48/22). It has since been exposed as a failure even within the Commission.

On Nov. 30, 2022, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament held hearings on the Global Gateway and the Indo-Pacific Region, where lawmakers learned from EU officials that very little of the GGI’s €300 billion had been disbursed, and that what was spent was not “new” money. “Global Gateway does not bring new financial means – there is no additional money when it comes to the EU level”, said Vincent Grimaud, an acting director in the Commission’s department for international partnerships.

“There’s no new money. And I’ve always held the view that if there’s no new money, there’s no new policy”, quipped Barry Andrews, an Irish MEP with the centrist Renew group. “This is a communications exercise. It’s a strategy to put together what was already going to happen and present it as something new. And if our partners are tricked by this, then more fool them.”

Perhaps, behind the candid admission of the high Commission official there is, as Handelsblatt reported, a disagreement on using the GGI as a strategic weapon against China. The Dec. 31 South China Morning Post quoted Hildegard Bentele, a German MEP from the European People’s Party, who was unable to locate any German companies that are involved. “If I talk to journalists, journalists are asking me what are these Global Gateway projects? If I go on the website of the European Commission, I do not find it – this is really difficult“, she is quoted as saying.

Nobody knows how much of the promised €300 billion has actually been used. Commission spokeswoman Ana Pisonera admitted there is no list of projects available: “We do not have a list of predefined Global Gateway projects and investments worth €300 billion at this stage, we are taking forward projects and flagship programmes with our partner countries under Global Gateway agreed on a rolling basis.” Commission officials interviewed by Politico last week said the projects will come next year (!).

Even China-haters denounce the GGI. “I think it was a mistake to begin with, trying to compete with Belt and Road, because BRI was launched under completely different circumstances, by a completely different country who, at the time, sort of filled a vacuum, proposed a new model, and had capital”, commented Francesca Ghiretti, a Brussels-based analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies, as quoted in the same South China Morning Post.

At the Strasbourg hearing, it came out that the few projects identified by the Commission officials pre-dated the launching of the GGI, and would have proceeded even without it, which led Barry Andrews to call the initiative “a rebadging exercise”.

In addition, potential partner countries do not want to be told what they should do with the money. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has pointed out that any EU partnership has to be based on equality: “There must not be one who dictates to the other, and says our standards are better than yours.”

But what can one expect from an EU that wants to decouple from the one part of the world which is growing? Perhaps the Global Gateway Initiative should be renamed the “Global Get-Away” Initiative…

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