Brics plus six

At their summit in South Africa, the five Brics countries have selected six new members from among a number of applicants. On 1 January 2024, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Argentina and Ethiopia will join the group of states, which sees itself as representing the "Global South" and will be called Brics+ in future. What to make of the expansion?

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The Insider (RU) /

Beijing gains from fuzzier profile

Commenting on The Insider, Sinologist Andrei Smolyakov sees China as a beneficiary of the enlargement:

“Brics is already a fragmented and diffuse bloc, with the remaining unifying elements only likely to suffer from the addition of new countries. ... The group's more or less 'anti-Western' base has been shaken: Saudi Arabia and the UAE remain the most important US allies in the region. ... The benefits of the outcome of the summit for China are considerable: the more countries join Brics, the fuzzier the dynamics within the group become and the easier it becomes for Beijing to consolidate its status as informal leader. Now China can further advance its investment programmes and thus its international influence.”

Le Monde (FR) /

China's unrealistic goals

Le Monde does not agree:

“The decision to enlarge the group is a victory for Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has been its most ardent advocate. But if he wants to turn the eleven Brics countries into an instrument of his rivalry with the US, he will come up against opposition from India and Brazil. ... And if, backed by Vladimir Putin, he wants to create a group of countries capable of opposing the G7 or the network of Western alliances with the US, he will have difficulty finding the same coherence between political systems as disparate as those of Iran, South Africa, Brazil and China. The greater the number of members, the lower the common denominator.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

A strong desire for change

The growth of Brics should give the EU food for thought, The Irish Times stresses:

“Dissatisfaction about how power is distributed is a more important lesson to draw from this event than how the decision to enlarge aligns with existing polarisations between west-east, north-south or liberal-authoritarian states. ... The enthusiastic response of over 30 states to attend the meeting as observers tells a story about a widespread desire for change and a search for agency to express it. This is a new world in the making. The European Union and its members did not feature to any significant extent - and need to up their diplomatic efforts in this game.”

Tageblatt (LU) /

UN reform as a way out

In a multipolar world the United Nations should regain its former clout, writes Tageblatt:

“The place where everyone sits at the same table remains the United Nations. ... The UN Security Council no longer represents the world. While two former colonial powers, Britain and France, have a permanent seat, Latin America and Africa are still not entitled to one. What's more, with the antagonists Russia and China on the one side and the US on the other the Security Council is paralysed. The strengthening of the Brics bloc may cause concern from a Western perspective, as influence is lost. A reform of the United Nations would offer a way out.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Fresh momentum for the world order

El Periódico de Catalunya sees the global balance of power changing:

“India feared that enlargement would weaken its influence, but its clout was clearly felt when it came to selecting new members from the 23 that officially applied. For New Delhi, which also aspires to lead the Global South, it is vital that the group is not dominated by Beijing. The progress made at the summit may not be as great as hoped, but there is no doubt that this grouping of very different countries and economies has succeeded in establishing itself in the international sphere and presents serious challenges. ... Amid all the doubts about globalisation, the Brics are giving fresh momentum to global governance and multilateralism.”

La Tribune (FR) /

Alternative funding sources emerging

The Brics expansion opens up new perspectives for emerging countries in the field of development cooperation, La Tribune stresses:

“Time will tell whether this marks a historic turning point. However, with the expansion from 5 to 11 members barely 22 years after its founding, the Brics group has already reached a significant milestone. ... This is a triumph for Beijing and Moscow, who have asserted their will against the three other members India, Brazil and South Africa. The emerging countries now know that they can turn to an institution other than the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund to finance their development.”

Diena (LV) /

Now the ball is in Russia's court

Diena does not see a major anti-Western alliance emerging any time soon - unless the Kremlin puts its stamp on Brics+:

“From a Western point of view the first conclusion is: concerns that this particular summit would become a geopolitical turning point with the emergence of a pluralistic, openly anti-Western confederation were greatly exaggerated. ... The only problem is that it only looks that way now, because the next Brics chair country, which will also have the responsibility of coordinating the process of welcoming the new members, is Russia. The mood there is different from that in South Africa, so the next Brics summit in Kazan in a year's time will take place in a very different atmosphere.”