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China-EU Trade: Greece's Pivotal Role in Bridging the Gap



Greece, a nation rich in culture and history, is currently situated at the nexus of two distinct historical trajectories: the expanding commercial ties between China and the European Union (EU).


The recent visit to Beijing by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis brought attention to how crucial Greece is to acting as a link between these two powerful economies. But during this expedition, worries regarding Greece's economic reliance on China have gained prominence. It's critical to underline how important it is to forward the agenda for cooperation and investigate the possible advantages of such an alliance in light of the fragile state of EU-China relations.


The "Bridge" Concept

More than just an attempt at diplomacy, Prime Minister Mitsotakis's trip to China was a calculated manoeuvre to recast Greece's role as an essential "bridge" between the EU and China. This idea emphasizes Greece's capacity to foster communication and cooperation between the two major world economies in an effort to create a more equitable and mutually beneficial partnership.


Greece has long struggled with its economic reliance on China, whose principal investment is the port of Piraeus, a significant entry point into Europe. A Chinese business called COSCO purchased and improved the port, turning it into one of the busiest and most effective ports in the Mediterranean. Greece's economy has definitely expanded as a result of this investment, but it has also created questions regarding the country's overreliance on China.


China's investment in Greece, according to the Greek government, is not as significant as previously thought, pointing out that China has also made larger investments in other European nations. This viewpoint might not, however, fully allay the worries of outside observers and EU member states. Regardless of the size of the investment, it is critical to recognize the value of promoting economic diversification to lessen reliance on any one foreign firm.


The Dutch Perspective

Greece's business relations with China have been widely criticized by Liesje Schreinemacher, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade. She has drawn attention to the fact that several European member states do not have thorough screening procedures for foreign investments, and she has highlighted the Dutch Security test for investments, mergers, and acquisitions (Vifo) as an essential tool.


This test is intended to protect against excessive external control by evaluating the effect of foreign influence in vital sectors. Schreinemacher's worries are in line with the wider EU viewpoint. The absence of strong investment screening protocols in European member states may give rise to a "waterbed effect," when investors gravitate towards nations with less stringent regulations, hence exacerbating their economic reliance on particular foreign firms.


There is a turning point in the EU-China relationship. It is difficult to strike a compromise between protecting strategic interests and conducting profitable trade with China. It is imperative that Greece serve as a mediator between these two powerful economies in order to promote a more equitable and advantageous partnership.


Greece and the EU should seek to improve investment screening procedures and diversify their economic holdings in order to allay worries about economic reliance. By doing this, they will be able to take advantage of their economic connections with China without sacrificing their strategic independence, reducing the risk that comes with depending too much on any one foreign party.

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