The Role of the Emerging Countries in the G20: Agenda-setter, Veto Player or Spectator?

Item Reference: 
BRIGG 2011/2
Publication Date: 
Publication Place: 
Publication Language: 
College of Europe / UNU-CRIS
Series Title: 
BRIGG Working Papers
Working Paper Type: 

In 2008, the G20 convened for the first time at leaders’ level, making emerging countries such as China, India and Brazil permanent members of an informal gathering at the highest political level. The aim of this paper is to refine previous assessments on the role of these emerging countries in the new G20. We first analyse the preferences of the United States and European members as a proxy for G8 positions and then juxtapose them with the preferences of China, India and Brazil as representatives of the emerging countries within the G20. We find that the latter share in particular the concern for more voice in global economic governance but – due to often heterogeneous preferences – do not generally act as a bloc. Moreover, by comparing their preferences with G20 outcomes, the paper investigates to what extent the emerging countries have agenda-setting or veto power, or whether they are taking a back-seat role among the G20 countries. We show that they are not mere spectators but have a certain agenda-setting power, especially when they are able to forge coalitions or hold the presidency.