Chinese outward investment into the European Union (EU) has increased very rapidly over the past decade. From a non-existent player fifteen years ago, China has now become one of the largest senders of foreign direct investment flows in the world. In Europe, China has become an ubiquitous investor from airports to ports, hotels to automobiles, and English to Italian football clubs. From the perspective of the host countries, this new source of foreign investment has brought economic opportunities, in particular to EU countries that have been suffering from high unemployment and low growth in the wake of the euro crisis. The new influx of Chinese investment has also ushered in a series of political challenges, as these countries are not used to dealing with foreign investors from less advanced economies, non-democratic regimes, or states outside of their security alliances. Additionally, it has strained European unity, as EU Member States have developed divergent reactions to these challenges. This talk will explore why this rapid surge in Chinese direct investment into Europe happened and how European countries balanced economic benefits against political costs in their political reactions to this new phenomenon, which some have presented as unprecedented and even dangerous.

Sophie Meunier is Senior Research Scholar in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and Co-Director of the EU Program at Princeton. She is the author of Trading Voices: The European Union in International Commercial Negotiations (Princeton University Press, 2005)  and The French Challenge: Adapting to Globalization (Brookings Institution Press, 2001), winner of the 2002 France-Ameriques book award. She is also co-editor of several books on Europe and globalization, most recently The Politics of Interest Representation in the Global Age (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and Speaking with a Single Voice: The EU as an Effective Actor in Global Governance?(Routledge, 2015). Her current work deals with the politics of Foreign Direct Investment in Europe, notably Chinese investment. She was made Chevalier des Palmes Academiques by the French Government.