PRIN2017 - The One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative: legal issues and effects on the financing and development of maritime and multimodal infrastructures by Chinese investors in Italy

The Research Project addresses the challenges and issues of the One Belt-One Road project (a.k.a. the Belt and Road Initiative - BRI), which is the most relevant example of the new trade policy undertaken by the People Republic of China (PRC) for connecting China with Europe, Asia, Oceania and Africa. This ambitious project includes (but is not limited to) the development of two major routes and the related infrastructures: the Silk Road Economic Belt (the Belt) through Central-West Asia and Central Europe, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (the Road), connecting South-East Asia, Oceania, North Africa up to Europe, within which Italy plays a key role.

The Research Project is aimed to identify the possible legal and financial instruments for attracting and enabling a Chinese investor to finance the construction and/or operation of a transport infrastructure in Italy according to the Italian and EU law and consistently with the needs of sustainability, both from an environmental and a cultural perspective. The Project will assess also the requirements and limits, under the Chinese law, to investments of a wholly private or public Chinese company in Western infrastructures.

As the Belt and Road Initiative includes cross-border projects involving other EU Member States, it is also necessary to identify to whom belongs the authority to negotiate and sign the said agreements with PRC, in particular whether the EU has competence to directly cooperate with China. Moreover, the Project entails also the sustainability of the BRI from both an environmental and cultural point of view, the regime of disputes arising from the relationships among Chinese investors and Italian entities and the BRI’s broader effects on trades among the different States there involved.

The research Project foresees also to create a cartography of NSR proposed by Beijing Government, developed on the basis of the maps of OpenStreetMap.

The Project is therefore essentially interdisciplinary. For this purpose, the research group, whose Principal Investigator is Prof. Stefano Zunarelli (University of Bologna), renowned expert of Transportation and International Trade law, consists of law professors (experts of Transportation Law, of Chinese Law and of ADR - Alternative Dispute Resolutions), economists, sinologists, geographers, experts of free port zones, engineers. The members belong to four different research units: Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna (coordinated by Professor Zunarelli), University of Uninsubria Varese-Como (coordinated by Professor Barbara Pozzo), University of Trieste (coordinated by Professor Angelo Venchiarutti, with the participation also of Prof. Massimo Campailla, University of Ferrara) and University of Genoa (coordinated by Professor Chiara Enrica Tuo).

The scientific results, including open access books and articles, will be published on the Project’s website.

Principal Investigator and Research Unit Coordinator of the University of Bologna

Stefano Zunarelli

Full Professor