Although development has featured in the EU-India strategic partnership dialogue, India has little incentive or interest to collaborate with the EU in this area. India’s approach to development and its credibility with developing country partners is based on its ‘Southern’ identity. The EU must therefore be realistic about the limited possibilities for collaboration with India, while continuing to seek local opportunities for cooperation – such as in Afghanistan – and exploring the potential convergence of development approaches between some EU member states and India.
Most of the EU’s strategic partnerships include dialogues on development, and in some cases commitments to collaboration. This policy brief examines whether such dialogue and commitments are reflected in EU-strategic partner interaction on the ground in two developing countries – Nepal and Mozambique. In both countries, the space for EU engagement with strategic partners is highly limited and largely determined by strategic partners’ economic, security or political interests. The EU needs to enhance dialogue with its partners at capital level and EU delegations require support to adapt to the new context created by the presence of emerging powers and to use the strategic partnership framework to engage with them.
China has become a major international development player, but EU-China engagement on development remains weak. Profound differences in their conception of development cooperation and China’s desire to avoid association with traditional donors leave little room for significant collaboration. However, some complementarities in specific issues could be further explored, for example regarding fragile states, capacity building or environment. A priority for the EU should be to build a long-term dialogue with China on development that seeks to understand and engage with rather than reform Chinese development policy. The EU-China strategic partnership could offer a framework to facilitate such dialogue and build trust between these two giant development actors.
Over the last 40 years Brazil has pursued strategic partnerships with a wide range of countries. It has done so to gain access to capital and technology, foster regional and inter-regional cooperation, and advance its priorities on the international stage - in particular through multilateral bodies and coalitions. These partnerships will continue to be a valuable tool for Brasilia to manage the intersections of its bilateral and multilateral engagements, reform global governance and consolidate Brazil's profile as an increasingly important global actor.
The sixth BRICS Summit – bringing together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – was held in Fortaleza, Brazil from 14-16 July. The summit marked a step change in the level of ambition of that group, and carries important implications for the future of global economic governance. The summit highlighted East-West and North-South divisions in the emerging global order, and a desire to reshape the Western-dominated global financial system. It also showed the determination of the BRICS to set up alternative forums outside of existing multilateral mechanisms - if existing bodies are not reformed to reflect the growing economic clout and priorities of the BRICS.
The EU-South Africa strategic partnership reflects a shift away from their traditional donor-recipient relationship. As South Africa emerges as a donor in its own right, there is potential for greater EU-South Africa collaboration to promote development in Africa and at global level. South Africa and the EU share a common focus on Africa’s development and security, as well on poverty reduction and normative issues of human rights and governance. Such convergence offers potential for trilateral development cooperation, which has yet to be explored. However, South Africa's concerns about the impact of broader EU policies on African development and about EU commitments to shift aid away from middle income countries could be barriers to deeper engagement.