GIGA Focus International Edition English

The Decline of Europe and the US: Shifts in the World Economy and in Global Politics

Nummer 1 | 2011 | ISSN: 1862-3581

  • The world is facing a dangerous power vacuum which may last for decades. This vacuum is developing because Europe and the US are currently in a phase of relative decline while China, India and Brazil are claiming international standing without being able to fill this role.


    A close look reveals several significant changes in global politics and the world economy:

    • China, India and Brazil are becoming global actors and are gaining relative strength. Together with other regional powers (e.g. Turkey, South Africa, Indonesia), they are influencing global energy, climate, security, trade, currency, and development policies.

    • At the same time, however, the aforementioned nations are too weak because they – despite strong economic growth – are unable to eradicate poverty in their own countries, and an extremely imbalanced distribution of income and wealth prevails, resulting in massive social problems. The weak infrastructure, technological underdevelopment, and low levels of education of the majority of the population are characteristic of their economic and social situations.

    • Their ability to effectively lead on a global level is limited as they do not yet provide enough global public goods (security, monetary arrangements, development aid). Furthermore, they are often not recognised as leading powers in their own regions.

    • Their alliances, such as IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa), BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, soon South Africa as full member) and BRICSAM (BRICS plus Mexico), show a low degree of institutionalisation and a large gap between rhetoric and reality. Additionally, the new regional powers disagree on many issues and thus do not constitute a counterpole to the West.

    • There is a growing normative disconnect between the regional powers, Europe and the US.



      Der GIGA Focus ist eine Open-Access-Publikation. Sie kann kostenfrei im Internet gelesen und heruntergeladen werden unter und darf gemäß den Bedingungen der Creative-Commons-Lizenz Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 frei vervielfältigt, verbreitet und öffentlich zugänglich gemacht werden. Dies umfasst insbesondere: korrekte Angabe der Erstveröffentlichung als GIGA Focus, keine Bearbeitung oder Kürzung.

      Das German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) – Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien in Hamburg gibt Focus-Reihen zu Afrika, Asien, Lateinamerika, Nahost und zu globalen Fragen heraus. Der GIGA Focus wird vom GIGA redaktionell gestaltet. Die vertretenen Auffassungen stellen die der Autorinnen und Autoren und nicht unbedingt die des Instituts dar. Die Verfassenden sind für den Inhalt ihrer Beiträge verantwortlich. Irrtümer und Auslassungen bleiben vorbehalten. Das GIGA und die Autorinnen und Autoren haften nicht für Richtigkeit und Vollständigkeit oder für Konsequenzen, die sich aus der Nutzung der bereitgestellten Informationen ergeben.

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