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ECPR Standing Group on the European Union 10th Biennial Conference LUISS, Rome

The European Union and the Belt and Road Initiative: Shaping a New Type of Regionalism?

European Politics
European Union
International Relations
Panel Number
Panel Chair
Andreas Grimmel
Universität Hamburg
Panel Co-Chair
Cord Jakobeit
Universität Hamburg
Panel Discussant
Gerhard Will
SWP Berlin

24/08/2018 09:00 - 10:40
Building: VMP 5 Floor: Ground Room: Lecture Hall B1
China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) is one of the most ambitious and multifaceted projects of regionalism today. Since its launch by the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in 2013, it sets a new milestone in at least three different respects: first, its ambitious agenda to connect Asia with Europe by a comprehensive trade and infrastructure project; second, its far geographical reach, potentially encompassing up to 65 countries; and third, in its aim to constitute an experimental field for a new type of “open regionalism” based on the promise to allow developing highly diverse economies to benefit from substantial investment in infrastructure as a prerequisite to increase international trade and investment.

The European Union (EU), as one of the biggest common markets worldwide has been considered a major partner in the framework of the BRI. Such a cooperation, however, will depend on how the rather divergent approaches of regionalism and regional integration — network versus norm-based — can be brought together, by which means a sustainable interregional cooperation can be organized and lead to concrete actions. This is especially the case with regard to the political, legal, economic, but also organizational architectures of the BRI and the EU.

This Panel considers BRI as an important test case with regards of how and to what extent the project can have the potential to shape current developments in regionalism and regional integration and how it not only effects participating regions and member countries, but also the expansion of transregional exchange networks between Europe and Asia.

The Panel will center on different fields in International Relations, Foreign Affairs, (Comparative) Regionalism, Area Studies and Regional Integration research by addressing some of the most pressing questions, such as:

- How can the BRI be conceptualized from the viewpoint of political theory?
- What role can the BRI play in the context of enhancing and deepening exchange and cooperation between Europe and Asia?
- Which role can the EU play in the BRI, and how should it react to the initiative?
- Which will be the effects on the political systems of the participating countries (including China)?
- To what extent will the BRI strengthen Chinas power in the region and enhance its economic statecraft?
- How far can the model of “open regionalism” be transferred to other regions?
- What are the preconditions for a working cooperation system in the framework of the BRI?
- What are the effects of the BRI for the greater Asian and European region?
- Which political, economic and societal actors will play central roles in the framework of the initiative?

The Panel especially covers the following topics from theoretical and/or empirical vantage points:

- China’s Belt and Road initiative in comparative perspective
- the BRI and the reactions of EU politics and institutions
- IR and integration theory, theories of (comparative) regional integration studies and their application in the case of the BRI
- EU-China relations
- 16+1 and the cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries

Paper List

Title Details
Does the Strength of Economic Relation Matter in the European Attitudes Toward the Belt and Road Initiative? View Paper Details
Making Sense of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Contested Theoretical and Conceptual Approaches View Paper Details
New Belt, New Road – New Policies? Assessing the Converging EU-China Security Interests View Paper Details
Status Quo or Revisionist? Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of the Role of the BRI in the Global Order View Paper Details
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