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The decline of Europe and the US: shifts in the world economy and in global politics

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Kappel, Robert

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Corporate Editor GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies - Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien
Abstract 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.
Keywords global governance; world politics; Europe; United States of America; China; India; Brazil; Republic of South Africa; world economy; international leading power; political influence; poverty; security policy
Classification International Relations, International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Development Policy
Free Keywords regional powers; global economy; world politics; US; Europe; India; Brazil; South Africa
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
City Hamburg
Page/Pages 8 p.
Series GIGA Focus International Edition, 1
Status Published Version; not reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works