EU investigates Chinese plans for Belgrade to Budapest rail link

China’s plans to build a 350km, $2.89m high-speed railway between Belgrade and Budapest are under investigation by the authorities in Brussels on the grounds that they may fall foul of EU laws which stipulate that transport projects of this magnitude should be put out to public tender.
An MoU committing the governments of China, Serbia and Hungary to the development of the international rail link was signed at a summit in Belgrade in December 2014 and was immediately hailed as a flagship scheme within President Xi Jinping’s ‘One Belt One Road’ dream of resurrecting the old Silk Road trade routes between Asia and Europe.
Designed to cut the travel time between the Serbian and Hungarian capitals down from eight to three hours, the line also dovetails into Chinese plans to turn the Greek  port of Piraeus – where Chinese shipping giant Cosco Pacific holds a 35-year concession to upgrade and run two container cargo piers –  into a regional hub for trade with Europe.
 “The commission services are assessing the compliance of the project with EU law. The dialogue with the national authorities is ongoing,” a European Commission spokeswoman told the Financial Times, which today reports that it has seen documents that would give the contracts for the construction and financing of the project to the China International Railway Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of China respectively. Disruption to the rail project would be a significant setback to diplomatic relations between Brussels and Beijing as well as to the One Belt One Road initiative as a whole.  

Source: FT