BRUSSELS – Multilateralism has been on the defensive in recent years. In a global setting that is more multipolar than multilateral, competition between states seems to prevail over cooperation nowadays. However, the recent global agreement to reform international corporate taxation is welcome proof that multilateralism is not dead.
But it is not healthy, either. While globalization has continued during the COVID-19 pandemic — albeit more unevenly than before and despite people’s feelings of increased isolation — interdependence is ever more conflictual. Even soft power is being weaponized, with vaccines, data and technology standards all becoming instruments of political competition.