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Reports and papers

The BRICS as an EU Security Challenge: The Case for Conservatism

23 Sep 2015 - 12:59
Source: © Host Photo Agency BRICS Summit Ufa

The Netherlands Institute for International Relations ‘Clingendael’ has published a new report, titled “The BRICS as an EU Security Challenge: The Case for Conservatism”.

This report by Peter van Ham examines whether, and if so how, the BRICS are a security challenge to the European Union (EU). The report argues that, 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. The report shows that 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. It is argued, however, that 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 report therefore argues that 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.

Read the full report here.