What the EU wants

The EU wants to promote global peace and security and defend the fundamental rights, universal values and international law that form the bedrock of cooperative relations between countries and peoples. It will remain at the forefront of the response to the existential climate and biodiversity crises that threaten humanity, and this too will guide our approach to the multilateral system. The EU intends to push forward cooperative solutions to “build back better” – strengthening the global recovery, tackling inequalities, promoting sustainable development and public health, the digital and green transitions including clean energy transition, defending human rights and the rule of law. These efforts go hand-in-hand with a more interests-based approach.

How the EU can achieve it

The multilateral order needs to be reinvigorated to make it fit for purpose so that it can cope with the global challenges and geopolitics of the 21st century. To remain legitimate, it must respond to the growing demands of citizens in terms of transparency, quality, inclusiveness and delivery. The EU and its Member States are and will remain firm supporters of the rules-based international order with the UN at its core. However, the world no longer resembles what it was when the UN was set up 75 years ago. The EU will engage actively in support of the UN Secretary-General’s process of reflection in this regard. The EU will also promote the ambitious modernization of key institutions such as the WTO and WHO and spearhead the development of new global norms, international standards and cooperation frameworks in areas such as digital, including Artificial Intelligence and other new technologies.

What the EU can do

The EU must develop a more stringent and strategic approach to its multilateral engagement, and contribute to an effective reform of the multilateral institutions. This requires more efficient coordination mechanisms between the EU and its Member States around joint priorities, and a greater willingness to leverage the EU’s collective strength to project its values and priorities abroad. The EU will leverage more effectively its regulatory power and unique single market and social market economy, its position as the world's first trading superpower and the relevance of the Euro . The EU will step up its leadership and make better use of its ability to act as a convenor, honest broker and bridge-builder. The EU’s democratic and regulatory strengths are assets to help build a better world, while its credibility as a peace actor and its security and defense structures can help support multilateral efforts to keep, sustain and build peace. Successful global engagement also means that the EU must deepen partnerships and alliances with third countries, multilateral and regional organizations, as well as other partners, especially those with whom we share democratic values and priorities. But the EU will also seek common ground on an issue-by-issue basis with others – not least on global public goods. Increasing the EU’s capacity to be a global actor also means ensuring consistency between the EU’s external actions and its internal policies. A united and coherent EU voice in global fora is essential in order to maximize its role and influence. The EU must ‘deliver as one’ to ‘succeed as one’.

A multilateral system that is “fit for purpose”

The EU’s strategic interests in the multilateral system are twofold. On the one hand, it has to sharpen the priorities that it wants to pursue within the multilateral system. On the other hand, a well-functioning multilateral system is a strategic interest for the EU in its own right.

Focusing the EU’s multilateral agenda (“what the EU wants”)

The EU must define clearer strategic priorities and objectives for its multilateral action. This is perfectly compatible with a multilateralist stance, as the principles that underlie the European Union are the same as those of the United Nations. The EU stands strongly behind the international rule of law and universal agendas, as set out in the United Nations and beyond, such as human rights and gender equality, the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, the global biodiversity framework and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. They continue to guide the EU’s actions, domestically and externally.

Making the world safer

In a world of increasing geopolitical tensions, conflicts and threats to international and regional stability, the EU has a deep interest in enhancing its efforts to prevent conflict, promote peace and security, uphold fundamental values and strengthen its capacity to act, together with other partners. The EU relies heavily on global stability and good governance, sustainable development, unhindered trade flows and supply chains, as well as the free flow of ideas and knowledge. With its political leverage, policies and financial instruments, including in the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU contributes to the maintenance of international peace and security in accordance with the UN Charter. In line with UN efforts, the EU follows an integrated approach to conflicts and crisis, from conflict prevention to crisis management and peacebuilding. The EU also cooperates closely with the UN and other partners on tackling global terrorism, violent extremism, transnational organized crime and cybercrime , money laundering and terrorism financing. In this context the EU should therefore use all its relevant tools identified in the EU Security Union Strategy. In order to preserve peace and stability as well the multilateral order in the region, the EU should further strengthen its partnerships with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as other regional organizations such as the African Union (AU), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

At the same time, the EU should be a driving force behind UN actions in response to conflicts that cause harm to civilians and threaten global security and stability. When defining the next set of EU-UN priorities on peace operations and crisis management for 2022-2024, addressing the consequences of the changing global context and enhancing cooperation on threats such as climate change and environmental degradation will be a key focus for the EU. It is fundamental for all members of the international community to uphold and improve the implementation of international norms on arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation, while ensuring that they keep up with new technological developments. To that end, the EU will play an active role in defending its security interests which are grounded in multilateral arrangements. The EU is a natural ally of the UN and regional organizations (e.g. Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,) in supporting democracy and promoting and protecting human rights, fundamental freedoms and the respect for human dignity including gender equality , the rights of the child, and LGBTIQ rights. The EU will defend and promote those principles, and push back against attempts to undermine them. It will stand up against any attempt to backtrack on the principle that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. The EU will team up with all those who support democracy, access to justice and accountable and inclusive institutions. The EU’s humanitarian policy and action is premised on the UN’s central coordinating role in emergencies. The Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus is a key concept for the EU, in line with its position as a leading development and humanitarian donor and policy maker. The EU will remain a vocal defender of International Humanitarian Law, unimpeded access to people in need, and the principled delivery of humanitarian aid

Building back better

The global health system is only as strong as its weakest link. Tackling global poverty, inequality, climate change and environmental degradation is an integral part of avoiding future pandemics and ensuring better preparedness. The EU emphasizes the need to build back better and consistently promotes multilateral solutions that focus on building sustainable and resilient systems – be it on health, transport services or global supply chains, access to affordable quality education – but also deliver green and digital investment frameworks and ensure sustainable long-term development financing. Tackling global poverty, inequality and supporting human development are also an integral part of ensuring better resilience to future crisis of any sort.

In response to the pandemic, the EU has led international solidarity and cooperation efforts by gathering world leaders and civil society around a pledging event to boost funding for research and a fair and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics against COVID-19. The EU is working closely with ACT-Accelerator and the COVAX facility to ensure that the development, production and equitable delivery of safe COVID-19 vaccines is ramped up worldwide and will help its partners through its development assistance programs. Reforming and strengthening the World Health Organization and its role in coordinating global health action, as well as the implementation of the “One Health” approach are key in this respect. The severe economic crisis brought about by the pandemic is affecting the progress made in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The global recovery must be green, digital, inclusive, just, and sustainable. It must be geared towards the Sustainable Development Goals, the goals of the Paris Agreement, and the preservation of biodiversity, the natural environment and its resources, as well as fighting pollution. This is why the Commission has proposed a Global Recovery Initiative linking investment and debt relief to the 2030 Agenda to secure a truly transformative, post-COVID-19 path. The EU is already working on multilateral actions to promote sustainable financing, as well as debt relief in line with existing initiatives, including the G20-Paris Club Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and the new Common Framework for Debt Treatments. Economic recovery also goes hand in hand with social justice, social protection and decent work. International labor standards set out in the International Labor Organization provide a tried-and-trusted foundation for inclusive recovery but more can be done to promote worldwide ratification of important ILO conventions. A well-functioning world economy also requires multilateral rules, adapted to the realities of the 21st century that allow for open, fair and rules-based trade, and ensure a level playing field for all economic actors. Keeping markets open, avoiding an escalation of trade conflicts and modernizing trade rules are critical for a fair and sustainable recovery. The European Green Deal is the EU’s growth strategy, setting out a model for sustainable growth and green global recovery that leaves no one behind. The EU will also continue to encourage others to raise their climate ambitions, meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and other environmental agreements such as the Convention on Biodiversity to achieve climate neutrality by mid-century and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. Moreover, the EU External Investment Plan and the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) represent a major push for sustainable investment, growth and jobs in EU partner countries, with the private sector fully engaged. Digitalization is another key enabler of sustainable development and a space of strategic competition but also of inadequate multilateral governance. As it embarks on its “Digital Decade”, the EU will prioritize the digital transformation in its international cooperation and partnerships. The EU will therefore continue to push for more ambitious global standards and regulatory approaches in the digital economy . In this regard, the EU leads global efforts in building fit-for-purpose laws for all digital services. Finally, comprehensive and well-managed migration policy is essential to achieve a fairer world, and contribute to growth, innovation and social dynamism. The Commission’s ‘New Pact on Migration and Asylum’ provides a strengthened basis to achieve a sustainable and long-term response in terms of migration and asylum management, fully grounded in European values and international law and carried out through enhanced and mutually beneficial partnerships with third countries and international organizations. This will be done in a comprehensive manner and taking into account the EU and partner countries’ interests. As the global leader on resettlement of persons in need of international protection, the EU will also continue to engage with the UN and partner countries to step up global efforts in this regard.

Strengthening the multilateral system (“how the EU can achieve it”)

A well-functioning multilateral system is an EU strategic interest in its own right. Multilateral organizations have to remain effective in delivering global public goods. The EU should continue to support necessary reforms and modernization of multilateral institutions. In June 2019, the Council adopted Conclusions setting out a strategic approach to help strengthen rules-based multilateralism and its institutions: uphold what works, reform what needs to change and extend global governance to new areas. The EU will work towards ensuring a truly inclusive multilateralism, where the voices of civil society, the private sector, social partners and other key stakeholders count. This is a crucial part of ensuring the relevance of the multilateral system and preserving its legitimacy.

Uphold international norms and agreements

The EU will support the implementation of all key international frameworks that are aligned with its priorities or to which it is a party. The EU has a strong interest in making sure the UN Security Council can fulfil its role in the face of increasing geopolitical tensions and rivalries paralyzing its work and preventing it from fulfilling its responsibilities. The EU recognizes the importance of active and consistent outreach efforts towards Security Council members. Ensuring full compliance with all relevant principles of international law, the EU will uphold and implement restrictive measures (sanctions) adopted by the UN Security Council and continue to impose its autonomous sanctions, whenever necessary, and will continue to report regularly to the UN Security Council about the wide-ranging EU-UN cooperation on international peace and security. The EU will also work to enhance the advisory role of the UN Peacebuilding Commission as well as its own engagement with this body. The EU will seek to ensure that the UN Human Rights Council acts more efficiently, addresses relevant thematic rights and country situations effectively and credibly, and ensures synergies with other multilateral human rights fora. To safeguard the integrity and independence of UN human rights mechanisms the EU will encourage increased public scrutiny of Human Rights Council membership responsibilities and mandatory pledging events at the UN General Assembly with candidates to the Human Rights Council.

The EU will continue supporting the international judicial, arbitration, and enforcement bodies that underpin the rules-based international order – in particular the International Criminal Court, the UN’s Human Rights compliance architecture, the European Court of Human rights – as regards both their jurisdiction and their effectiveness . The EU will firmly push back against any attempts to undermine international law – especially with regard to the universal values that underpin the United Nations and International Humanitarian Law – or attempts to create parallel institutions or to use the existing institutions for national or ideological interests that are at odds with the common good. The EU calls on all States to pay their assessed contributions to international organizations in full and on time. Organizations that are critical for upholding international law and commitments must be appropriately funded.

Reform multilateral organizations to make them fit for purpose.

In the current context, effectiveness and coherence of the multilateral system is paramount, so that it is soundly managed and financed sustainably, and that universal values and international law are protected. The follow-up of the 75th anniversary of the UN, including the implementation of the Declaration commemorating it, represents a unique moment to ensure that there is a genuine renewal. The EU looks forward to engaging with UN Secretary-General Guterres as part of a broad and inclusive consultation process leading to the presentation of his report in September 2021. A reinforced UN ‘delivering as one’ needs to advance efficiently peace and security, human rights and sustainable development, to implement the 2030 Agenda, and to support and monitor effectively the implementation of international agreements. The EU will structure its engagement in a way that helps UN agencies, funds and programs to work in this direction, including through acting more coherently internally, and with other aid actors and non-governmental organizations, as well as with the International Financial Institutions. The EU supports the reform process initiated by the UN Secretary-General to make the UN ‘fit for purpose’ . The EU was instrumental in securing the adoption of the General Assembly resolutions that have enabled progress on the reform's three strands – management, peace and security architecture, and development system. A more accountable, transparent and efficient UN system will be in the interest of all. The EU therefore stands ready to support addressing remaining challenges and the implementation and impact on the ground, including through the UN Resident Coordinators. The revitalization of the General Assembly, as well as a comprehensive reform of the UN Security Council, will be essential to ensure that the UN can truly live up to its responsibilities under its Charter in the 21st century. Modernization and reforms are also crucial in specific UN agencies and international organizations. This is why the EU is leading the process of strengthening the World Health Organization, around a concrete proposal to reinforce its international preparedness and response capacity to health emergencies. We must ensure that the WHO is given a stronger and more independent mandate and is adequately and sustainably resourced to carry it out. Furthermore the EU is leading efforts to reform and modernize the World Trade Organization in all its functions to provide stability, certainty and fairness in the global trading system. The reform of the WTO will play a critical role in facilitating the economic recovery from the pandemic, in delivering on the objectives in the field of sustainability, and in developing trading rules that are more relevant to today’s digital world. The International Financial Institutions, in particular the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, are amending their governance structure to better reflect today’s global economy, increasing the quota and voting shares of developing and emerging members and focusing their work on current challenges. The EU supports these institutions in their modernization to enhance their transparency and efficiency. At the same time, the EU should leverage the combined weight of its Member States in these fora more effectively, with a view to fostering their contribution to building back better globally, by speaking with one voice and moving towards a more coherent external representation . The European financial institutions, in particular the EIB and the EBRD, subject to the future European Financial Architecture for Development, will also closely cooperate with the International Financial Institutions.

Extending multilateralism to new global issues

The EU has an interest in extending international norms, standards and global cooperation in priority areas where there is limited or no global governance or where reinforcement is needed such as democracy, rule of law, international taxation, digital cooperation, consumer protection, environmental degradation, oceans, natural resource governance and raw materials security and sustainability as well as green technologies and renewable energy. To this end, the EU will further engage in active regulatory cooperation, including in international norm setting organizations, by leveraging its financial and regulatory power to help shape global norms and standards. Notable examples of such initiatives are the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) , the Council of Europe’s Ad hoc Committee on AI (CAHAI), the International Platform on Sustainable Finance , the 2020 G7 High-Level Transportation Principles in Response to COVID-19, the High Ambition Coalition on Biodiversity, the Global Coalition for a High Seas Treaty and the Global Alliances on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency. The implications of new digital technologies including artificial intelligence need to be addressed globally, in full compliance with a human-centric and inclusive digital transformation, human rights and the rule of law, through more ambitious global standards and rules. The modern privacy rules in place in the EU and the recently proposed Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act aim in this regard to create a safe online environment for citizens and to foster innovation, growth and competitiveness in the single market. The EU’s action in multilateral fora will need to strike a delicate balance between pursuing the need for technological sovereignty while upholding the openness of the internet and fundamental rights. To this end it must engage with all international partners on the ongoing challenges to digital governance. This includes digital taxation, data protection and privacy, tackling disinformation, illegal content online, 5G, internet governance, cybersecurity, digital finance including payments and cryptocurrencies, and e-government where current rules are insufficient. To this end, the EU will promote its policy and regulatory approaches, including the protection of personal data, the free flow of data with trust, net neutrality and the promotion of ethical principles in the context of human-centric and trustworthy artificial intelligence27 . The EU will also work in multilateral fora to fight abuses such as the disproportionate access of governments to personal data28. Finally, the EU will contribute to finding common solutions in existing fora, as is the case for the ongoing work at the G20 and the OECD, with respect to a global consensus-based solution to address the taxation of the digital economy. Access to and use of outer space should equally be shaped by international rules or standards and by a governance system aimed at guaranteeing the long-term, sustainable, responsible and peaceful use of space.

A Stronger Europe partnering with the multilateral system (“what the EU can do”)

The EU’s strategic objective going forward will be to better leverage its role and contributions to the multilateral system to more effectively pursue its interests and defend its values. The EU and its Member States are key participants and contributors to the multilateral system. Approximately one quarter of both the UN’s regular and the peacekeeping budgets comes from EU Member States, as does over 30% of funding (core and voluntary) of all development, peacebuilding and humanitarian activities. At the International Monetary Fund, EU Member States hold 26% of voting power at the Executive Board underpinning a third of IMF resources. Over 25% of the capital of various branches of the World Bank and over 30% of Trust Fund contributions come from the EU and its Member States.

Strengthen EU coherence and coordination

Together, the EU and its Member States have a powerful influence in the multilateral system wherever they effectively use coordination mechanisms, representation and funding capacity as a bloc of 27, in support of the EU’s political objectives, values and role as an international standard-setter. This is however not the case across the board, resulting in some instances where the EU collectively punches below its weight. To maximize that collective influence, the EU should further strengthen its coherence, unity and solidarity in multilateral fora . The EU and its Member States must coordinate their positions, actions and messaging, and act as one, in line with the Treaties. To that end, the EU and its Member States must improve information sharing, consultation and coordination, including in the governing bodies and boards of multilateral bodies where the Union is not represented. For instance, the EU should work to establish coordination mechanisms in all International Financial Institutions (IFIs), similarly to what is already happening at the International Monetary Fund. As the presence of EU Member States on the UN Security Council is set to decrease to only two in 2022 (until earliest 2025), ensuring effective EU cooperation on matters related to the UN Security Council is a priority. This should build on the ongoing strengthening of cooperation between EU Member States who are members of the Security Council, whether permanent or non-permanent, and provide a channel to promote the EU’s positions in that organ. The often interdependent nature of the economic, political and security spheres demands better coordination across policies at all levels. Moreover, the EU should leverage its role as a global powerhouse in research and innovation to ensure that multilateral action is informed by the best possible scientific evidence.

Speaking with one voice

The EU’s ability to participate actively, be represented effectively and speak with one voice is key. The EU has all the necessary attributes to be a fully-fledged member in international organizations, or to participate in them with an enhanced observer status. To ensure that the EU speaks with one voice and acts on matters falling within its competences, the external representation role of the EU in international organizations is vested with the European Commission, as well as with the High Representative for matters falling under the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and with EU Delegations on their behalf. The Commission and the High Representative will use their power of initiative in a more targeted way to improve the formulation of EU positions to be taken in international fora, not least in view of giving EU representatives more tactical flexibility. Furthermore, to be able to make decisions in a faster and more effective way, the Council also needs to use Treaty provisions that allow for constructive abstention and for the adoption of decisions by qualified majority voting in Common Foreign and Security Policy. This is particularly important when it comes to reacting to international law violations, including of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law. This approach would also allow the EU to be quicker and more effective in reacting to those violations by adopting EU sanctions. The adoption of the EU global human rights sanctions regime is an important milestone in strengthening its collective action in this field. In many instances and for various reasons, the EU does not have full membership rights of international organizations. This has not prevented formal arrangements in the form of participation as observer or even pragmatic ad hoc arrangements with Member States and/or the organizations concerned and their members, providing the EU and its representatives with the capacity to effectively intervene and act beyond its formal status. The EU is recognized as a reliable constructive partner and a deal maker. A recent example was the May 2020 World Health Assembly where, despite not being a member, the EU was the driving force behind the Resolution on COVID-19 response. Nevertheless, in other important cases such arrangements either do not exist, are unnecessarily cumbersome, outdated, or prevent the Commission and/or the High Representative from speaking effectively on behalf of the EU in matters falling under EU competence. One case in point is the Food and Agricultural Organisation, where the EU’s capacity to be effective is undermined by outdated arrangements with Member States that are not in line with the Treaties. The EU should therefore urgently assess on a case-by-case basis whether its status in a given international organisation, fund or programme requires adaptation or upgrade, in accordance with the EU Treaties, and do what is necessary to achieve the adaptation or upgrade.

Funding the multilateral system

In terms of funding the multilateral system at global, regional and country level, the Team Europe approach36 allows for more effective leveraging of the collective contributions of the EU and the Member States, in support of and linked to the implementation of agreed policy priorities and more coherence in international fora. The EU should continue to make clear what it expects from its partners and make better use of this leverage. This means that, where necessary, the EU should be ready to calibrate its funding to specific multilateral initiatives or organisations in accordance with how such policy priorities are met. Generally, the visibility of EU support should be ensured.

The EU’s presence in the multilateral institutions

When it comes to leadership positions in multilateral organizations the EU should support candidates with the highest professional, managerial, ethical and political standards. At the same time, there is an urgent need for a more coordinated and strategic approach and better exchange of information, including with third country partners. This also applies for elections to UN bodies such as the Human Rights Council. Consultations in Council should be intensified. Similarly, the EU should work on developing an EU staff exchange and presence policy in international organisations, at all levels.

Alliances, Partnerships and regional co-operation

In an increasingly multi-polar and interdependent environment, the EU is recognised as a stable and predictable partner and as a vocal defender and promotor of the rules-based multilateral system. The current context calls for a clearer and better articulated strategic approach to engagement with its international partners. The EU should seek such partnerships not only to advance its own priorities, but as a common effort to find sustainable solutions to global challenges based on the rule of law rather than the rule of the strongest. The EU needs to diversify its global engagement by exploiting the potential for cooperation in multilateral fora, building on the following principles:

  • Stronger cooperation with like-minded partners to defend universal principles and rules. The EU will better concert efforts with all interested partners in defending the multilateral acquis , especially with regards to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, including the possibility for third countries to align with EU statements in multilateral organisations and fora. The EU needs to work urgently with partners who share its values and principles to strengthen democratic institutions, fight corruption, authoritarianism and human rights abuses around the world, and promote a common agenda based on democracy, human rights, equality and the rule of law. Finally, in in the boards of international financial institutions, the EU should use the spread of EU Member States in regional groupings as an opportunity to systematically develop joint objectives with interested partners.
  • Issue-based cooperation and common initiatives. The EU will extend its global engagement to deal with transnational challenges such as health, security threats, climate change, biodiversity loss, or other areas of common interest, such as education, youth, science, technology and innovation. Supply chain disruption during the pandemic has shown the importance of maritime routes for the global economy. The EU will work with partners to promote respect for basic principles of maritime passage, security and safety as well as protection of the oceans.
  • Diversifying partnerships and working with regional organisations. The EU will make better and more coherent strategic use its cooperation with third countries and regional and sub-regional organisations, in particular when a strategic framework or an international agreement covering international cooperation is in place. This is the case for the African Union (including in trilateral formats with the UN), but also – to take just one example – the members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), with which there is a common endeavour to enhance multilateralism. The more regional and global organisations work together, the stronger we are collectively and the more robust the multilateral system becomes. The EU will continue to engage in the promotion of regional cooperation through relevant multilateral regional organisations and multilateral platforms like the Eastern Partnership (EaP), the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).
  • Building alliances to promote standards and regulatory approaches. The EU will develop and improve alliances within international standard setting bodies. When considering or adopting new internal initiatives with an international dimension the Commission will in parallel engage internationally. The EU will for example seek to build a coalition of like-minded countries for a human-centric and rules-based governance of artificial intelligence technologies. It will propose early engagement with concerned partners on the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. ‘Non-traditional’ coalitions and formats should be explored, building on lessons from processes such as the EU, China and Canada co-convened Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action, the Paris Peace Forum and Finance in Common summit. Multi-stakeholder partnerships between governments, the private sector, civil society, academia and the scientific community are key for shaping inclusive multilateralism and act as a catalyst for reform. For example, the EU has worked with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the GAVI initiative on the development and distribution of COVID19 vaccines. To facilitate alliance-building, the EU will more actively use its network of 140 EU Delegations, working together with Member States’ Embassies to make the case for multilateralism and mobilise support for EU initiatives. In other words, the EU will ensure greater consistency between its multilateral and bilateral diplomacy, “multilateralising” bilateral engagement, and “bilateralising” the multilateral approach. The multilateral dimension should be integrated more systematically in all the EU’s political dialogues with third countries, from summits to working level contacts. The EU will make it clear that it expects partners to translate joint commitments into practice, and will use its network and leverage to this end. Finally, the EU will further strengthen its role and influence in informal multilateral fora such as the G20 and the G7 to increase their capacity to deliver, as they shape and reinforce the multilateral agenda and deliver strong crisis response and concrete solutions for global problems. The immediate priority here is to ensure a strong global economic and health policy coordination that helps the sustainable, inclusive and resilient recovery.

Working with Multilateral Institutions

The EU will define its partnerships with multilateral organisations as a function of their alignment with universal agendas and EU interests and their ability to pursue them. The EU and many multilateral organisations are natural allies. There are many success stories and areas where these partnerships have helped shape global governance, and above all made a difference in the field of global economic and financial policy coordination, development, humanitarian response, climate change, environment, and peace and security. Multilateral actors, and in particular UN entities, are key implementers for the delivery of EU’s development and humanitarian assistance. They can also be holders of important normative and standard setting mandates, as is the case for the UN Environment Programme with respect to environmental agreements, or the International Telecommunication Union in setting the internet’s interoperable and open standards. They can also be important policy and strategic interlocutors, with whom joint priorities and structural issues are addressed – as for instance, through the regular high-level dialogues with the World Bank. On peacekeeping and peacebuilding, EU crisis management missions and operations and UN Peacekeeping operations active in the same operational theatre cooperate closely and provide each other with strategic, logistical, medical and security support. A key element for such partnerships will be the establishment of high-level political dialogues. For example, the EU will seek to strengthen coordination with the UN through regular Leaders’ meetings (‘EU-UN Summits’) analogous to the well-established high-level exchanges with the leadership of the Bretton Woods institutions. That work could be complemented by more regular political level stocktaking in priority areas for the EU (e.g. climate and the environment, digital, human rights and development), building upon existing frameworks. The beginning of the new EU financial cycle and its innovative instruments, such as financial guarantees, has also the potential to drive multilateral reforms and efficiency. In the programming process under the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) the EU will better focus on what can be done together at country, regional and multilateral level, under a policy-driven approach. The Team Europe approach allows to define a common agenda and to leverage EU and its Member States’ funding, normative power and strong country presence to engage with partner countries, multilateral organisations and other partners around joint priorities at country, regional and multilateral level. To increase the effectiveness of its external action, the EU will work towards aligning its funding to the multilateral system more closely with its agreed policy priorities, including development cooperation priorities, while respecting criteria for Official Development Assistance and principles for development aid effectiveness. The EU will also continue working towards a more strategic approach to quality voluntary funding for key UN funds, programmes and specialised agencies as well as other international organisations. It will regularly and strategically assess its funding to key multilateral organisations, International Financial Institutions and UN agencies, funds and programmes to identify and update clearer priorities per entity, track implementation, and increase its visibility

Referenced Organizations (alphabetical listing)

  • African Union (AU)
  • Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).
  • Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
  • Coalition on Biodiversity
  • Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)
  • Council of Europe (CoE)
  • Eastern Partnership (EaP)
  • European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
  • European Investment Bank (EIB)
  • European Court of Human rights
  • Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
  • G20
  • G7
  • G77
  • Global Alliances on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency
  • Global Coalition for a High Seas Treaty
  • Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI)
  • International Criminal Court
  • International Labor Organization (ILO)
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • International Platform on Sustainable Finance ,
  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
  • Internet Governance Forum
  • League of Arab States
  • Non-Aligned Movement
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
  • Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS)
  • Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD)
  • Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
  • Organization of American States
  • Organization of Islamic Cooperation
  • UN Environment Programme
  • UN System
  • UN’s Human Rights compliance architecture
  • Union for the Mediterranean (UfM)
  • World Bank
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • World Trade Organization (WTO)

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