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Strategic Diplomacy in Action: The EU and the BRICs

Michael Smith

One of the key tests facing the emerging diplomatic system of the European Union is that of developing a strategic diplomacy: a diplomacy that focuses on the pursuit of a strategic vision for the Union, and that provides principles and guidelines to shape the positioning of the EU both in the global arena more generally and in relation to key strategic partners. The contention of this paper is that the EU has not yet developed such a strategic diplomacy - indeed, that in some ways it may be further from achieving this ambition than it was before the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. It does however possess the tools with which to construct a strategic diplomacy, and the paper makes a number of recommendations about the ways in which those tools might be deployed in the next period. The paper proceeds by looking first at the challenges facing the development of a strategic diplomacy by the EU, and then by focusing on a key set of targets for such a diplomacy - the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) group. This group is in itself a moving and sometimes elusive target, indicative of the renewed fluidity of international dealings more generally in the 21st century, and thus it poses a particular test of the EU's capacity to address diplomatic challenges in a strategic manner.

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