CWR > Volume 6(2); 2020 > Article
Research Paper
Published online: September 1, 2020

Can China’s Belt and Road Initiative be Reconciled with the EU’s Multilateral Approaches to International Law?

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann & Giuseppe Martinico
European University Institute (EUI)
European University Institute, Via Bolognese 156-50139 Firenze, Italy.
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This article focuses on China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a potential cause of trade, investment, financial, maritime, energy trade and intellectual property disputes. In so doing this contribution discusses the increasing “systemic rivalry” among authoritarian, neoliberal and ordo-liberal conceptions of international economic law and the resulting legal problems in the settlement of BRI disputes inside the EU countries, whose courts may not recognize arbitration awards by Chinese arbitration institutions and may hold Chinese investors accountable for disregard for human and labor rights in their BRI investment inside the EU countries.

Keywords : China, Belt and Road Initiative, Bilateralism, Soft-Law, European Union, Multilateralism, International Law

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