EU Science Hub

Chinese foreign direct investments in the EU energy sector

The European Union (EU) is not only China’s biggest trading partner but also a crucial destination for Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI). During the past 15 years, Chinese FDI transactions have gained momentum, coinciding with the “Going Abroad”, “Going Global” and “Belt and Road” strategies. During the post-financial crisis, the EU became the fastest growing destination for Chinese FDI triggered by a friendly investment environment and the undervaluation of forcefully privatized assets. Investments in the EU Low Carbon Energy Technologies (LCET) sector reflect a commercial and political strategy led by the Chinese government, promoting sustainable energy development as well as securing the privileged position of state-owned energy companies. Chinese state-backed companies account for a large share of FDI transactions LCET in the EU. The recently adopted “Made in China 2025” strategy gives grounds for expecting an increase in strategically motivated FDI. The increase in investment has fuelled the debate whether the EU possess sufficient policy instruments to protect national and supranational interests and to control FDI.