What are the main characteristics of Chinese investment in the region and how such investment is interfering with the EU-Western Balkan relations?
Author: Laia Comerma, Pompeu Fabra University
In 2018, the enlargement process was back as an EU policy focus, as the Commission recognised the Western Balkans as a geopolitical challenge due to the increased presence of external powers such as China. Five years after the adoption of the new Strategy Paper, the issue of China’s impact in Europe is more relevant than ever due to its possible negative effects on good governance, regulatory enforcement, and national security, especially in the areas of transport infrastructure, power generation, and heavy industry.
In this context, this policy paper offers a meta-analysis of the existing literature on Chinese investment and soft power in the region and presents the main issues and areas where Chinese governance could negatively affect the Western Balkans countries’ efforts to fulfil the enlargement criteria and become EU Member States. It details the main standards and rules that are being countered by China’s own governance norms and practices, and it offers policy recommendations to address the issue at hand.