Emerging powers play an increasingly central role in international development. Recognising this, the EU is seeking to strengthen discussion and collaboration on development with these powers through its strategic partnerships. However, the scope for such engagement varies widely, depending on each country’s goals and strategies in relation to both development cooperation and the multilateral development agenda. In this book, leading experts examine the approach to development adopted by Brazil, China, India, Korea and South Africa; the status of current EU engagement with these strategic partners on development; and opportunities to strengthen this engagement. The book is part of the broader FRIDE-Egmont Institute ESPO initiative that provides analysis on the EU’s relations with its strategic partners.
Since it joined the OECD-DAC, Korea has become an increasingly important development actor. Korea is keen to develop partnerships with traditional donors and has already done so with a number of European member states. Given the relevance of Korea’s remarkable development experience, not least with a view to bridging Northern and Southern agendas, as well as the synergies between Korean and European development priorities, greater EU-Korean cooperation on development could prove particularly fruitful.
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.