In 2020, people around the world experienced life in slow motion, even as political developments accelerated. For the European Union, navigating the COVID-19 crisis has been challenging; yet, despite much naysaying, Europeans not only stuck together, but grew together, forging a more cohesive bloc. In 2021, global cooperation ought to make a strong comeback, and the EU should continue to pursue “strategic autonomy” so that it can safeguard its citizens and interests in the years and decades ahead.

It is a truism that 2020 marked a watershed. In fact, the world has been undergoing several tectonic shifts for years now, including but not limited to growing public distrust, polarization and identity politics, tepid economic growth, rising debts and deepening inequality. We have witnessed the weaponization of interdependence. Trade, technology, investment, tourism and other former venues of deepening cooperation have become instruments of power and domains of intense competition.

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