European Neighborhood Council head avers Middle Corridor value for EU strategic autonomy

Transport Materials 23 May 2024 17:56 (UTC +04:00)
Lada Yevgrashina
Lada Yevgrashina
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 23. The Managing Director of the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) Samuel Doveri Vesterbye published "Europe's strategic autonomy rests on the Middle Corridor" on the Euractiv portal, Trend reports via the article.

The author pointed out that the Middle Corridor is a trade zone that meets many of the EU's conditions for developing the Eurozone.

"Europe's intelligent moves toward de-risking from over-reliance on Chinese technology and critical raw materials necessitate new areas where the EU can relocate its supply chains while preserving cost-effective pricing, access to cheap energy, and mining titanium, uranium, silicone, and a range of other elements necessary for European industries," Vesterbye said. 

There's one 'trading area and corridor' that fulfills many of these conditions: the Middle Corridor, spanning from the Balkans, Türkiye, and the Black Sea into the South Caucasus, the Caspian Sea, and Central Asia," emphasized the head of the ENC.

He highlighted that a recent decision by the EBRD to invest 10 billion euros in Central Asia proves how serious business investors are about the Middle Corridor.

"The Middle Corridor, contrary to popular belief, provides a safe passage of Chinese goods to Europe, and vice versa, which fulfills Europe's necessary balancing act between, China and the US to preserve the maximum leverage, negotiation power, and – per definition – strategic autonomy," Vesterbye explained.

According to him, the EU's attention to the Middle Corridor does not mean that other corridors are unimportant (e.g., Suez), but rather that it's about diversifying and optimizing European supply, energy, and access security.

Furthermore, the nitty-gritty policy details make a difference in transport policy, and specifically, they concern Türkiye, for which the Middle Corridor is a high priority, the official said.

The EU has already simplified the visa regime for truck drivers from Türkiye and could use the 'Middle Corridor policy' to manage relations with Türkiye, which has long been balanced between Russia and the West, the author said.

He also highlighted that the success of the Middle Corridor rests on careful balancing between the US and China.

"Supporting supply-chain relocation (e.g., away from China) and regional integration along the Middle Corridor will prove key to guaranteeing this," Vesterbye pointed out.

He also highlighted that the vast size of Kazakhstan and the low salinity of the Caspian Sea provide enormous space for the construction of solar panels and wind farms (economies of scale) to support large-scale hydrogen production throughout Kazakhstan.

"Uzbekistan's resource-rich accessibility (critical raw materials), the connections of Central Asian countries with Türkiye, and access to the Western Balkans will bring additional benefits to both the EU and the countries of the Middle Corridor. This involves technologies, efficient labor markets, regulatory harmonization, and developed road and rail connections for the transport of goods," he mentioned.

To note, the Middle Corridor, is a transportation and trade route that connects Asia and Europe, passing through several countries in the region. It is an alternative route to the traditional Northern Corridor and Southern Corridor.

The route starts in China and crosses Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. It then passes through the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Türkiye before reaching Europe.

The Middle Corridor offers a land route that connects the eastern parts of Asia, including China, with Europe, bypassing the longer maritime routes.

The Middle Corridor has been in operation for 10 years, but it has been particularly active in recent years.

For example, in 2023, 2.7 million tons of cargo passed through it (an increase of 86 percent), and in 2024, 4.2 million tons are forecast.

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