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EU's Global Gateway meeting slammed as 'business as usual'

8 months ago 27

This week, the EU Commission yet again invited leaders from the so-called 'Global South' to Brussels to promote its Global Gateway following years of unclarity and underperformance.

"This is truly a credibility test," said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borell at the end of the two-day event on Thursday (26 October). "Last year, I said that in 2023, we will need to over-deliver instead of over-promise. We need to promise less and deliver more."

The plan was launched in 2021 as an alternative to China's trillion-dollar Belt and Road project, which the commission claims will mobilise €300bn of financial investments — €150bn for Africa, €135bn of which is estimated to come from private investors.

But the initiative has been met with scepticism from the start, including by many leaders in the Global South, for lacking fresh financial commitments from EU members.

Indeed, according to the 2021 communication, Global Gateway contained only €18bn in public grants until 2023.

In her opening statement on Wednesday, commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced that "the EU and the European Union has already provided €66bn for transformative projects" since the introduction of Global Gateway in 2021.

"Almost half of this is grants that do not have to be repaid," she added, suggesting the proportion of grants had increased.

No further information was published about the figure alongside the speech. The commission did not reply in time to clarify and confirm the substance of von der Leyen's announcement.

According to the commission, agreements were made on €3bn worth of projects.

Partnerships with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia were signed, allowing European companies access to highly-prized critical materials in those countries.

However, a point was made not to repeat unfair relations where the Global South solely provides resources to wealthy countries without building up their local economy.

"We need access to critical materials, but we need to break with old-style 'extractivism'," said Borell.

The deal should create "quality local jobs," von der Leyen said. "Both India and the EU could work together in infrastructure projects and [local] capacity building in the Global South," India's principal secretary and chair of the G20 wealthy countries, Dammu Ravi, told press.

But while the Global Gateway Business Advisory Group contains 60 of the largest companies in Europe, including fossil-fuel giants TotalEnergies, Volvo and Bayer, it does not feature any public or private enterprises from countries in the Global South.

"While there were some warnings against the Global Gateway turning into colonialism 2.0," said Jean Saldanha, the director of the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad). "The lack of clear commitments to invest in value creation in countries rich in resources essential for this transition illustrates a 'business as usual' approach."

According to Borell, 100 new projects will be announced before the end of the year.

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