GIGA Focus International Edition English

EU Relations with "Emerging" Strategic Partners: Brazil, India and South Africa

Number 4 | 2012 | ISSN: 1862-3581

  • In her speech on the BRICS and other emerging powers on 1 February 2012, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Lady Catherine Ashton, stated that the EU needs "to invest in these countries as strategic partners in a very strong and dynamic, bilateral relationship [...] We need to do that because it is in our interest to do it."


    • The EU’s strategic partnerships have been established in an uncoordinated manner; however, this has not been accidental. All of the EU’s "emerging" strategic partners carry economic weight, but even more importantly, they have political weight and (potentially) important regional and/or global roles to play.

    • Consequently, they are essential partners for shaping a globalized, interdependent and multipolar world confronted with key challenges and with a need for international cooperation and global governance. They are truly "formative powers" in that they have enough influence to shape the present and coming world order. These countries are essential partners for the EU in terms of its goals of building "effective multilateralism" and of raising its own international profile.

    • While the EU was initially keen to establish strong links between its bilateral and biregional strategic partnerships, since mid-2010 the official statements have put a stronger focus on working with bilateral partners more independently from biregional relations.

    • The "emerging" strategic partners have an interest in being officially "selected” by the EU, a traditional or “established" (extraregional) power. Being recognized and acknowledged as important players in regional as well as global terms serves their international and regional power profile as well as their status within the international hierarchy.

    • Strategic partnerships generally are and will be an important foreign policy tool in a multipolar world. They are part of the strategy of cooperating while competing.


      How to cite this article

      Hess, Natalie (2012), EU Relations with "Emerging" Strategic Partners: Brazil, India and South Africa, GIGA Focus International Edition English, 4, Hamburg: German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA),


      The GIGA Focus is an Open Access publication and can be read on the Internet and downloaded free of charge at According to the conditions of the Creative-Commons license Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0, this publication may be freely duplicated, circulated, and made accessible to the public. The particular conditions include the correct indication of the initial publication as GIGA Focus and no changes in or abbreviation of texts.

      The German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) – Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien in Hamburg publishes the Focus series on Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and global issues. The GIGA Focus is edited and published by the GIGA. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the institute. Authors alone are responsible for the content of their articles. GIGA and the authors cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions, or for any consequences arising from the use of the information provided.

      Natalie Hess

      Natalie Hess

      Former Doctoral Researcher

      GIGA Focus Middle East | 3/2013

      Ambivalente Erfahrungen mit der "Gestaltungsmacht" Katar

      Oliver Borszik

      Former Doctoral Researcher

      GIGA Focus Global | 7/2013

      Deutschland ‒ neue Wege in der Internationalen Zusammenarbeit

      Jörg Binding

      Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit

      Lukas Kudlimay

      Universität Hamburg

      GIGA Focus Asia | 9/2014

      Die europäisch-indischen Beziehungen: Chancen, Herausforderungen und Perspektiven

      Shazia A. Wülbers


      Sign up to receive email notifications about GIGA activities

      Social Media

      Follow us