Special Envoy to New Delhi
A corridor connecting India to Europe via the Middle East, equipped with a rail link, a high-speed transcontinental cable and a future hydrogen gas pipeline. Such a project is extremely reminiscent of the “New Silk Roads” launched just ten years ago by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
India, the European Union (EU) and the United States, on the sidelines of the G20 summit organized this weekend in New Delhi, were to officially announce this Saturday the launch of an “India – Middle East economic corridor – Europe”. This “corridor is much more than a simple railway or a cable, it is a green and digital bridge” which will connect “continents and civilizations”, declared Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, at New Delhi.
This project, for which no investment amount has yet been communicated, is part of an initiative launched last year at the G20 summit in Bali with American President Joe Biden, called the Infrastructure Partnership. and a global investment (PGII, in English). Europe is participating in this PGII through its own plan, Global Gateway, which aims to finance infrastructure in emerging and developing countries to the tune of 300 billion euros, between 2021 and 2027. This involves promoting projects that are more financially, socially and ecologically responsible than Chinese projects, particularly in Africa.
The new corridor will pass through the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel. Saudi Arabia, represented in New Delhi by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, maintains close ties with China, which has become its main buyer of oil. But she seems not to want to tie her hands with an exclusive alliance. And its historic relationship with the United States, if it has cooled, is certainly not buried. For the European Union, rapprochement with the Arab powers of the Gulf is a response to the war in Ukraine, the Commission is told. No question of letting the ties between Moscow and Riyadh tighten without reacting.
Even if it is not officially mentioned, the India-Europe Corridor clearly appears as a counter-offensive to the Chinese “New Silk Roads”, renamed “The Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI, English) . This project in which Beijing plans to invest hundreds of billions of dollars to “connect” 150 countries in Eurasia and Africa has from the outset been viewed with suspicion in New Delhi. “We were the first to say that the Silk Roads were also for military use and would use financial coercion,” comments an Indian diplomat. “We denounced the opacity of loan conditions, we warned of the risk of an impossible debt burden”. “The early euphoria has faded; Sri Lanka's experience was frightening, many countries realize that they have accumulated unbearable debts and risk having to cede strategic assets to their Chinese creditor, continues this Indian official.
According to the European Commission, the objective of the corridor is to speed up the journey of goods between India and Europe by 40%. It now remains to translate this political will into real projects.