The future of multilateralism and strategic partnerships

11-09-2020

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has exacerbated global geopolitical trends, including the struggle to uphold multilateralism in a climate of growing nationalism, protectionism and rising great power competition. At the same time, it has demonstrated the need for multilateral cooperation for the effective mitigation of cross-border threats, including health crises. Within this environment, the European Union (EU), a multilateral entity in itself, has illustrated the relevance of cooperation. Beyond its internal strengthening, the EU has set the defence and reform of multilateralism as one of its key priorities under the current European Commission. This will require a more coordinated and autonomous EU foreign policy, a smart approach towards the escalating US–China rivalry, reinvigorated cooperation with major democracies, and mobilisation of the EU's foreign policy tools, widely defined. As coronavirus leaves parts of the world more fragile and vulnerable, it also precipitates the need for a reformed multilateral system 'fit for purpose' and able to address the challenges of the future. Thinking through new practices to enrich multilateralism will be important for the further development of international cooperation.

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has exacerbated global geopolitical trends, including the struggle to uphold multilateralism in a climate of growing nationalism, protectionism and rising great power competition. At the same time, it has demonstrated the need for multilateral cooperation for the effective mitigation of cross-border threats, including health crises. Within this environment, the European Union (EU), a multilateral entity in itself, has illustrated the relevance of cooperation. Beyond its internal strengthening, the EU has set the defence and reform of multilateralism as one of its key priorities under the current European Commission. This will require a more coordinated and autonomous EU foreign policy, a smart approach towards the escalating US–China rivalry, reinvigorated cooperation with major democracies, and mobilisation of the EU's foreign policy tools, widely defined. As coronavirus leaves parts of the world more fragile and vulnerable, it also precipitates the need for a reformed multilateral system 'fit for purpose' and able to address the challenges of the future. Thinking through new practices to enrich multilateralism will be important for the further development of international cooperation.