Apart from demanding a larger “voice” in global governance, most BRICS members are overall satisfied with the international system’s present functioning and therefore cherish a conservative, rather than revolutionary, vision of the global economy. The global veto power of the BRICS is bound to grow, but their proactive force in global politics will remain negligible. On practical security matters, the BRICS rarely act as a group and therefore have minimal collective leverage within multilateral fora and are particularly ineffective on military and security matters. The EU should not expect these intrinsic divisions to permanently block the development of the BRICS as a strategic actor. The EU’s declining economic and political power makes Europe’s vicinity susceptible to BRICS influence (and China in particular). The EU should adopt a cautious approach to the BRICS challenge, accommodating to its rise. China’s conservative streak is something the EU should cherish. Within the BRICS framework, China can manage and even put a lid on Russia’s rising pugnaciousness. This is clearly in the Western strategic interest and should be the basis for a more mature EU strategy towards the BRICS and its individual members.
About the author
Dr Peter van Ham is Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute in The Hague, the Netherlands, and Adjunct Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. The author thanks Anne Bakker for her research assistance.
The heads of state of the BRICS countries at the BRICS summit in Ufa
© Host Photo Agency BRICS Summit Ufa