Forging a new narrative for multilateralism
G7 Summit

Forging a new narrative for multilateralism

In recent years, multilateralism has become something of a punching bag. Amidst today’s great power competition, the very notion of a cooperative global approach to solving problems has been called into question, as though it were the relic of a bygone era or a romantic anachronism that has run its course.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

When G7 leaders met virtually in February, we vowed to make 2021 a turning point for multilateralism. And I believe it will be. The European Union has never lost faith in the power of working together with other like-minded partners to solve problems. In recent years, Europe has positioned itself as a leader of vibrant and engaged multilateralism.
The EU has brought global leadership to the fight against climate change. It is manifested in our commitment taken in 2019 to become the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050. And we recently stepped up our ambition, by agreeing to cut our carbon emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

The global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is another prime example of our spirit of leadership. The EU has been a driving force for international cooperation and solidarity in the search for treatments and vaccines against the virus. And when they were found, we shared them.

The EU is the biggest exporter of vaccines – we exported half of our production by mid-May. We helped set up COVAX to which we are a major contributor. We appeal to all partners to address the funding gaps, as well as any other bottlenecks, in particular to ensure the security of supply chains for vaccines and of their components.


This must be the year we fill the sails of multilateralism with a gust of fresh energy and a renewed sense of purpose. The G7, under the UK presidency, and the G20, under the Italian presidency, offer an opportunity to make great strides forward – from global health, climate change and biodiversity to championing free and fair trade and reinforcing our shared democratic values. And America’s promise to re-commit to the multilateral system marks a new beginning – we must capitalise on this momentum.

The G7 must once again stand as a powerful engine for positive and robust multilateral action – universal and far-reaching in ambition. The Cornwall Summit can be a catalyst for greater collective action on several fronts: defeating COVID-19, reaching climate neutrality, and building back more resilient economies and fairer societies.

The global roll-out of vaccines will define our success against the coronavirus pandemic. We must also prepare for future health crises. An international treaty on pandemics, under the framework of the World Health Organization, would help prevent future pandemics, and make sure we are better prepared and can take immediate action.

Climate change does not slow down during a pandemic. We must protect the health of our planet with the same fervour that we are protecting the health of our citizens. The EU’s leadership on climate neutrality by 2050 has set down an ambitious marker, generating fresh momentum for stronger international action. But we need everyone on board. The G7 can spur greater urgency in the run-up to COP26.

The transition to net-zero economies poses particular challenges for developing countries. We must stand by our commitment to support these partners. The EU and its members remain the largest contributor of public climate finance to developing countries. We urge all developed countries to scale up their contributions. This will help reduce environmental inequality, preserve biodiversity and lead to a just ecological transition.

Today we are seeing the economic recovery gaining momentum. This is a unique moment in history to reimagine our future. G7 members hold a special responsibility to ensure that the mantra “build back better” means better for all, not just a select few. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernise our societies – to make them greener, more digital, more inclusive.

At the same time, we must recognise that many low-income countries do not have the means to stem the economic fallout from the pandemic on their own. This is especially the case in Africa. The G7 should lead the global efforts to both provide further immediate financial support and help stimulate increased private investment in the region.

The European Union believes that open and rules-based trade can help power the necessary transformation, restore growth and create jobs. We continue to prioritise reform of the World Trade Organization, as it remains the best venue through which to resolve global trade issues.
Europe has been leading the ongoing global efforts to ensure a fairer taxation of business. The recent change in the stance of the US administration on this issue is encouraging. We will continue to work for a global and consensus-based solution in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the G20. There is no time to lose.

Our collective duty is now to show that multilateral cooperation is of direct benefit to the well-being of our citizens. This will depend on us – nations that share the values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law – to reframe our multilateral narrative and get to work on addressing the new challenges of the 21st century.

Let’s make 2021 the great reawakening of our collective global spirit.