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Can Europe do Without a Geologistical Strategy to Face China? Etudes de l'Ifri, June 2023

During the economic and financial crisis in 2008, during which the West was severely weakened, the ties between the Western Balkans and China were particularly close. For these countries, turning to China meant to secure new destination markets for their exports and to guarantee new investments.

But today enthusiasm is giving way to disenchantment, resulting from the disappointment of broken promises, lacking concrete and tangible results. Skepticism is growing towards China, especially in Eastern European countries, which are closer to the United States on defense matters and do not wish to lose the support of the United States in the face of a growing Sino-American rivalry, and in particular against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.

China’s presence in these regions is in fact lower than that in Western Europe, it is on the other hand more insidious because it circumvents the standards of the European Union (EU) in terms of market allocations, results in excessive indebtedness and highlights corruption practices, which increase China's ability to coerce beneficiary countries.

Against this backdrop, the EU must review its policy towards its neighborhood to counter the negative effects of Chinese influence. It cannot remain passive and must actively contribute to resolving the imbalances observed, by defining a geologistic approach in order to counter China and to position itself on the various challenges revealed by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to bridge development gaps in its neighborhood, offer membership prospects to Western Balkan countries or clarify its policy towards China.


Marie Krpata works as a Research Fellow at the Study Committee on Franco-German Relations (Cerfa) at the French Institute of International Relations – Ifri where she dedicates her research activities to the European Union and the external relations of the Franco-German couple. Before joining the Cerfa she worked in non-governmental and international organizations as well as in consultancies.


This publication is available in French "L’Europe peut-elle faire l’économie d’une stratégie géologistique face à la Chine ?". Download the PDF.


Can Europe Do Without a Geologistical Strategy to Face China?
Batteries European Union (EU) geologistics geopolitics Global Gateway influence infrastructures Transportation Baltic Sea Central Europe China European Union Germany