Von der Leyen tells Euronews: G7 global plan has 'no strings attached'

The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has told Euronews that plans discussed by G7 leaders to help the world’s developing countries come “without strings attached”, in comparison to China.

In an exclusive interview from the G7 summit in southwest England, she said the Group of Seven nations and China were “strong competitors” in the economic field and “systemic rivals” when it came to human rights and democracy.

On Saturday G7 leaders backed a vast global infrastructure plan for developing and emerging countries to rival the Chinese “Belt and Road” project. The “Build Back Better World” initiative had been announced earlier by US President Joe Biden.

The Commission president referred to the EU’s own “Connecting Europe and Asia” strategy, launched in 2019 and aimed at boosting mutual prosperity for the people of both continents.

“(Where) the connectivity initiative is concerned, we discussed intensively (at the G7) that it is important to bring forward this connectivity initiative and make sure we have the better and the more convincing model,” von der Leyen told Euronews’ Jack Parrock. Citing the power of the G7, she added that “it is first important to convince our partners with us, the investment comes without strings attached compared to China”.

Commenting on the dispute between the EU and the UK over post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland, Ursula von der Leyen said peace and stability on the island of Ireland, and respect for the Good Friday Agreement, were of paramount importance.

“We’ve shown a lot of flexibility; we expect our British friends to show the same flexibility and just to do their job and implement what we have agreed upon,” she said. “It’s the one and only solution to solve the questions connected with Brexit on the island of Ireland, and it’s a good solution so we should move forward now.”

Watch the full interview with the European Commission president in the video player above.