With Europe and much of the West facing a seemingly painful decline, attention continues to shift to the BRICS and the world's other rising powers. But are these countries overplaying their hands as the cracks begin to show in their economic virility?
After a frenetic 2011, what are the big trends that are going to shape Europe and the wider world in 2012? Here are ten that ECFR experts think are likely – and one widely predicted trend that we don't think will happen…
Instead of lecturing Ukraine the EU must show that it means business
As the EU and Russia hold their latest summit neither side can boast that they are in the best of health. But the summit is important for symbolic reasons – and there are several practical issues that they can address at the same time.
Russia in 2010 was as corrupt as Papua New Guinea, had the property rights of Kenya and was as competitive as Sri Lanka. As Putin readies himself to retake the presidency he must also work out how to deal with a country that is now firmly post-BRIC.
Russia's election results are bad news for Putin for two reasons. Firstly United Russia did badly despite the election being biased in its favour, and secondly it shows that Putin can no longer rely on an apathetic population.
Learning to deal with a changing Russia under a familiar leader
The economic crisis has huge implications for EU foreign policy. There is less time for it, less money available, and Europe's ability to project soft power is in a coma.
Russia's foreign policy over the coming decade will bear the signature of Vladimir Putin, as Russia seeks new alliances and international clout. The price that Russia is likely to pay is international isolation