The European Union and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are formally similar interstate organisations according to the institutional theory of international relations. However, in reality they are antagonists, and their antagonism is conceptual — the EU and BRICS embody the old and the new in international politics and the methods of interstate institutional cooperation. Now that legitimate grounds have arisen to question the future of institutional forms of interstate cooperation in principle, the fates of the EU and BRICS are of equal interest for understanding the foundations on which these states can preserve such major achievements of the 20th century.
The aim of this report is to analyse the national approaches of the BRICS countries to today’s Europe, its role in world affairs and the priorities of national governments in this area. Based on this analysis, the BRICS countries will be able to gradually develop a strategy for cooperating with major external partners.
To some extent, this report is an experiment that applies to the EU the very approach that the EU has long taken towards the outside world: today’s Europe is treated here not as a leading player but as an object of the national policies and strategies of a group of large states, two of which — India and China — are the first and second most populous countries in the world. It is unlikely that in the future BRICS-EU relations will be based on parity between the two associations. The history of international politics is devoid of such examples for a reason. As they develop, regional interstate associations inevitably strive to create a collective interest based on the national interests and values of their participants. While certainly useful for their sustainability, this inevitably fuels egotism in relations with external partners, all the more so as foreign policy values continue to become an increasingly divisive factor in interstate relations.