The last defender of multilateralism? : The EU’s position in the 21st century
12 - 15 p.
Fatigue of multilateralism, Foreign policy, European Union
The end of the Second World War marked the beginning of a new and multifaceted international order. While geopolitical tensions between the Eastern and the Western bloc persisted until 1991, the post-World War II period was characterised by economic openness and collective efforts to promote peace and the rule of law. With the United States (US) providing hegemonic leadership, fostering cooperation and advocating »free world« values, the second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of regional and international organisations: indeed, a number of multilateral institutions were founded, including the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) – the predecessor of the European Union (EU) – and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). After the end of the Cold War, this order continued to spread, and countries in East Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America became increasingly integrated into the global economy. Thus, new international organisations were created (e.g. the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 and the G20 in 1999) while pre-existing ones continued to expand, both in terms of their size and fields of operation (such as the EU, which began as a purely economic community with six member states in 1958 and has now become an organisation consisting of 28 members that covers many policy areas, from environmental protection to external relations and security).