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Research Report

A BRIC in the World:: Emerging Powers, Europe, and the Coming Order

Thomas Renard
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2009
Published by: Egmont Institute
Pages: 46
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 7-8)
    Paul Valery and Thomas Renard

    On 16 June 2009, the heads of state of the four BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) held their first official summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, at the end of which they claimed “a more democratic and just multipolar world order”. Eight years earlier, when the acronym BRIC was coined for the first time, nobody ever imagined that the acronym could turn into a real political forum one day. Eight years earlier, the world still revolved around the US. Times are changing.

    Today, the world is increasingly multipolar with the emergence of new actors on the global stage, including the...

  2. (pp. 9-12)

    It is always hard to predict what History will recall and what it will forget. Many journalists and experts are prompt to celebrate dramatic events that will allegedly mark the advent of a new world. In fact, what seems so important today might be futile to history, and the new world coming might just look like the old one. As once said by British historian Philip Guedalla: “History repeats itself; historians repeat each other”.

    To our Western eyes, the economic booming of China and India is unprecedented, but seen from Asia this is a mere return to normality. A glance...

  3. (pp. 13-20)

    The world is changing. This is an undeniable fact despite all caveats recalled in the previous section. The world is becoming increasingly multipolar with the emergence of China, India, Brazil, and with the resurgence of Russia. The world is also becoming increasingly interdependent, as recently illustrated with the US financial crisis turning into a global economic crisis. The third characteristic of the coming order is the development of a new structure of multilateralism.

    Looking back to the recent past, the year 2001 symbolizes particularly well the definite end of the American “unipolar moment”5 and the rise of a multipolar order....

  4. (pp. 21-30)

    The rise of a multipolar order implies the emergence of new poles. But who are the real emerging powers? And what is an emerging power anyway? Part of the answer came from Jim O’Neill, economist at Goldman Sachs, who coined the now famous BRIC acronym which became tightly associated – not to say synonymous – with emerging countries. Other acronyms followed: BRICS (BRIC+South Africa); BRICSAM (BRIC+South Africa+ASEAN countries+Mexico); and BIC or RIC (depending on which country is seen as the weakest link in the BRIC). And yet, these acronyms tell us only part of the story.

    Goldman Sachs’ predictions are...

  5. (pp. 31-34)

    The EU can genuinely be qualified as a global actor, given that it has an established presence all across the globe. European companies opened branches in Asia, Africa and South America; the European Commission has a delegation in 130 different countries; European civil and military forces are deployed in multiple missions on several continents; European literature is translated and read in many languages; and jerseys of European soccer teams sell like hot cakes outside Europe. However, there is a difference between being a global actor and being a global power. The former requires mere global presence; the latter requires significant...

  6. (pp. 35-40)

    At the dawn of an interpolar era, it appears crucial to assess the opportunities but also the challenges ahead for the EU. Will the coming order be favourable to the EU or will it seal the end of the “European world”, i.e. a world dominated and shaped by Western interests and values? What place can or should the EU claim in an interpolar world? How can the EU still shape the coming order?

    In many regards, the power of Europe is fading. Europe has been the central continent for the last few centuries, controlling the world and its destiny. And...

  7. (pp. 41-42)

    The rules of the great game for global power are changing. The US cannot play alone anymore. President Obama has already recognized China as a new major player, notably when he declared that “the relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century” during a visit to Beijing last July. In other words, both countries are likely to become the central powers of the coming order. Russia and Europe are trying to stay in the game, while Brazil and India are trying to step in. They all have the potential to become major or middle powers, provided...