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Europe and China's New Silk Roads

Europe and China’s New Silk Roads

A Report by the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC)

Edited by Frans-Paul van der Putten, John Seaman, Mikko Huotari, Alice Ekman, Miguel Otero-Iglesias

This report covers the role of OBOR in the relations between China and fourteen EU member states, including all larger countries and many middle-sized ones, as seen from the European side. Apart from the Balkan region and the Baltic states, all geographic sub-regions within the EU are represented. Moreover, a separate chapter discusses the EU perspective on OBOR. The report does not focus on China’s domestic motivations for OBOR. It also does not take up the task of weighing China’s economic drivers – such as a push for development of China’s western regions, the export of overcapacities and excess savings – against political and strategic considerations by the Chinese leadership. Instead, the report seeks to take stock of how the OBOR project is playing out in Europe. It does so by systematically treating three basic questions across a selection of EU member states and at the EU level itself: 

  • Which OBOR-related activities exist currently in the host countries and at the EU level?
  • What is China’s approach towards individual EU member states with regard to OBOR?
  • What are the perceptions and reactions in individual European countries and at the EU level?

This is the second report by the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC).The network was first launched by the Elcano Royal Institute and the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri, Institut français des relations internationales) in 2014. The Mercator Institute of China Studies (MERICS) joined Elcano and Ifri in their efforts to move the project forward. ETNC members represent major European think tanks and are specialized in analysing China–Europe relations.



The purpose of ETNC is to exchange information on relations with China among its members and to provide information on China–Europe relations from the perspective of the EU member states. When examining the EU–China relationship, the network’s discussions, analyses and recommendations take a decidedly ‘bottom–up’ approach, examining the perspectives of individual EU member states towards China or China-related issues in order to generate a more comprehensive perspective on the broader EU–China relationship.

The report includes contributions by representatives of the following institutions:​

  • Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations, Belgium
  • Institute of International Relations, Czech Republic
  • Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Denmark
  • Finnish Institute for International Affairs, Finland
  • Institute of International Economic Relations, Greece
  • Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary
  • Institute of International and European Affairs, Ireland
  • Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Italy
  • The Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’, The Netherlands
  • Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), Poland
  • University of Aveiro, Portugal
  • University of Economics in Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Sweden
  • Chatham House, United Kingdom

Click here to download this report as PDF.

MERICS Contributors

  • Stiftung Mercator