The 3 Seas Initiative should be about economic freedom, not the revival agenda

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Russia’s war on Ukraine makes the effort known as the Three Seas Initiative “even more urgent”, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a recent video address at a summit related to Riga, Latvia.

The urgency is not just for the initiative’s member countries and partners, Blinken said during his June 24 address, but for its focus areas of energy, transport and digital communications. .

Indeed, the issue of making the Three Seas Initiative, launched in 2015, more concretely operational has gained in urgency and necessity.

The Three Seas Initiative, also known as 3SI, is a joint regional effort in Central and Eastern Europe to expand cross-border energy, transport and digital infrastructure and boost economic development in countries around the sea Adriatic, Baltic Sea and Black Sea. .

The goal was to implement a development initiative that would operate on commercial terms and address the region’s chronic connectivity gaps.

Twelve countries, all members of the European Union, participate in the Three Seas Initiative alongside the United States. These are Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

This year’s meeting at the Three Seas Initiative Summit and Business Forum in Latvia reaffirmed that the initiative still has potential to address transatlantic economic, energy and security issues. Yet the combination of cross-cutting challenges in the region and lackluster engagement from Washington is keeping overall progress much slower and lower than many had hoped.

At the summit, officials announced that the US International Development Finance Corporation and the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund had reached an agreement under which the US agency would provide up to $300 million in financing to the investment fund.

According to the Development Finance Corporation, the investment strategy of the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund would incorporate the agency’s “value-driven approach”. It would “emphasize sustainable development as well as the promotion of environmental and social goals”, and the Development Finance Corporation will play an important role.

However, if Washington and its transatlantic partners in the Three Seas Initiative are truly serious about the initiative, they should not turn it and its investment fund into just another conduit for advancing an agenda.” environmental, social and governance”. Such a program is often simply referred to as ESG – a buzzword both widely circulated and legitimately debated for its legitimacy in the investment community.

From Washington’s foreign policy perspective, the Three Seas Initiative is one of the most notable political and economic initiatives to emerge in Central and Eastern Europe.

Basically, 3SI is and should be a convenient platform for private sector investors to initiate and pursue infrastructure development projects. The success of the initiative ultimately hinges on creating public-private partnerships driven by real-world business interaction, not a political welfare agenda like ESG.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk bluntly described ESG as “a scam” that is “armed with fake social justice warriors.”

Indeed, under the tent of ESG activism, a good number of companies around the world have woken up. They have armed capital, promoting a leftist political agenda in the name of good, desirable and preferred investment.

The unfortunate, but perhaps not so surprising reality, however, is that the environmental, social and governance program is failing to deliver what it claims in terms of returns on investment and positive impact.

In today’s geopolitical environment, building secure and robust supply chains and greater connectivity while ensuring resilient growth means moving trade from adversarial regimes to trusted friends and partners. In addition to traditional trade relations, the United States must offer credible and concrete alternatives to the economies of the Three Seas Initiative to combat the malign influence of opposing powers.

However, misguided, short-sighted and politically motivated policies such as ESG often lead to a clear and present danger. And its inhabitants who seem to get lost in all this.

For example, consumers and producers in the United States and Europe are suffering from high energy prices that result from poor climate policy choices. Such a policy should prioritize people and their economic livelihoods, but this has not been the case.

From a broader but critical perspective, it should be noted that economic freedom – not the environmental, social and governance agenda – makes the world cleaner, safer and better governed. It’s not hard to find the economic damage inflicted by heavy-handed and misguided government policies, resulting in lingering uncertainty, deteriorating entrepreneurial environments and weaker job growth.

The real path to securing environmental, social and governance improvements is to focus on policies that enhance economic freedom. As The Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of Economic Freedom shows, the connection between economic freedom, freedom and prosperity around the world is unambiguous.

Regardless of how the calamity in Ukraine unfolds, there is no denying that Russia’s autocratic dominance as the powerhouse for most of Europe has given Moscow outsized political and economic clout. Russia has weaponized its energy resources against many of America’s transatlantic allies and partners.

By facilitating much-needed increased cooperation in energy and connectivity, regardless of Russian influence, the Three Seas Initiative can and should play a vital role. The effort needs to be scaled up accordingly, especially with America becoming a more proactive anchor investor in the initiative.

The coming months will likely be the crucial time when America and its allies decide whether the Three Seas Initiative remains merely a diplomatic program guided and shaped by left-wing environmental, social and governance norms, or can become a project serious and pragmatic.

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