A new system aimed at facilitating the membership of Balkan states will now require candidates to be evaluated on their ability to ‘tackle malign third-country influence’. This comes in the wake of EU warnings over the past year of China’s growing influence in Central and Eastern Europe.
After 20 years, Putin may be looking to protect his legacy by negotiating a controlled power handover in Russia, retiring from day-to-day administration while keeping a firm hand on policy direction as Russia’s father figure – much as China’s Deng Xiaoping did.
Brussels has misread Beijing’s global aspirations – there is no grand plan behind Chinese acquisitions of European assets. But, as China becomes a stakeholder in Europe, the continent should adopt a pragmatic strategy to profit from this.