South Africa’s perceptions of the EU in energy governance: A partner in decline?

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Series Details Vol.15, No.1, January 2017, p99–114
Publication Date January 2017
ISSN 1472-4790
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The European Union (EU) and South Africa have a long-standing relationship, which includes political and economic partnerships, thus providing a critical test case for norms diffusion. In the past few years, however, this relationship has changed and new powers have come into the picture, especially the other BRICS countries, affording new opportunities for agency to South Africa in dealing with norms emanating from Europe. The field of energy governance, with its crucial impact on both climate change and sustainable development, is likely to become a critical terrain of policy cooperation in the near future.

This article discusses pioneering research on how South Africa perceives the EU’s role in energy governance against the backdrop of the growing influence of the BRICS. It reviews media images and uses them as a proxy of public discourse in South Africa. Our data shows that while the EU is a critical partner for South Africa, its public image in the country is in decline in the field of energy governance, with growing relevance occupied by the BRICS countries.

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