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Europe to benefit from China's Belt and Road Initiative

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-05-07 17:25

BRUSSELS - The China-initiated Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will bring more benefits for European nations that are hungering for investment, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said.

"I can see and I understand the motivation and value of China's Belt and Road Initiative. The benefits are not just for China itself; Europe, too, stands to benefit from better connections with Asia's dynamic economies," Juncker told Xinhua in a recent interview, his first with a Chinese news outlet since he took office.

The European Union (EU) would build better links and reduce barriers within and outside the 28-member bloc so that more trade and interaction can help it achieve its goals for peace and prosperity, he said.

"In Europe, we've recognized this for a long time; it is part of our raison d'etre. And so we have invested heavily in transport and other links within and outside the EU. We will continue to do so through the 315 billion euros ($358 billion) Investment Plan for Europe which I launched on coming into office, " he said.

Juncker described the Belt and Road Initiative as an ambitious plan that will call for substantial resources, saying the most significant need is to have an environment enabling large-scale, transnational investment in Asia.

"That does not depend simply on resources or technology: but on things like governance, security, political stability, sustainable development, and cooperation below the level of regions," he said.

As European nations have substantial experience in this regard, he said, EU-China cooperation could greatly help improve connectivity in Asia.

In Juncker's opinion, there are many ways in which the Investment Plan for Europe and the Belt and Road Initiative could interact.

He explained that in some cases, there will be projects that naturally interact as the eastern part of Europe literally meets with the western part of the new Silk Road.

Meanwhile, European countries and China can learn from each others' approach with a "soft" interaction, he said.

For example, Juncker said, the Investment Plan for Europe selects projects based on technical merits and social benefits, thus ensuring that they are relevant and sustainable for European countries' development.

"I think that approach could be useful also for the Belt and Road Initiative," he said.

Juncker also noted that although there is no shortage of liquidity in Europe at the moment, investment is killed by such factors as uncertainty about the projects, a lack of risk financing, and regulatory barriers.

"I want to change this -- to change these structural features and restore investment. With a transparent, dynamic pipeline of projects and a true Single Market I believe we can overcome this," he said.

The president said he did not see any significant obstacle in connecting the Investment Plan for Europe and the Belt and Road Initiative.

"It just needs transparency and the will to work together. We must engage to make sure that our plans fit at both the macro level and the operational level," he said.

He voiced his willingness to discuss such issues with Chinese leaders on the occasion of a forthcoming EU-China summit.

"If we can make it work -- and I hope that we can -- I see huge benefits for both China and the EU," Juncker said.

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