From Space in Transition to Space of Transit – Risks and Opportunities of European and Chinese Investments in the Western Balkan Region
Annual Review of Territorial Governance in the Western Balkans, I, 2019, 16-26
Giancarlo Cotella, Erblin Berisha
The Western Balkan Region (WBR) is currently undergoing a complex process of integration into the European Union (EU) that is supported by a number of programmes and actions. In the last decade, however, a new and cumbersome set of actors entered the game. The launch of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has triggered a growing influx of foreign capital in the region, potentially limiting the influence of the EU. In this light, this contribution seeks to compare the logics of Chinese interventions on the WBR to those that underpin the ongoing European integration process, in order to identify existing mismatches and intersections, and reflect upon their potential consequences. The analysis shows that, whereas the EU remains the most relevant influencing actor in the region, China’s growing impact may slowdown integration in the long run.