changing times

Can the G20 Help Europe Look to the Future?

EU referendum
Nothing like a walk for displaying loyalty to European ideals. Source: DPA Picture alliance [M]

It is time to try again. The summits held during 2017 so far have been anything but successful. But the international calendar is etched in stone. And this time it’s the G20 which will be called upon to demonstrate what other summits couldn’t: That multilateral diplomacy still works.

The atmosphere will not be much better than it was in May, when disagreements overwhelmed efforts at better cooperation. The Western understanding of how to manage change began to buckle long before Donald Trump was elected US president. The strict rules and large organizations of the postwar world no longer fit the growing diversity of a globalized 21st century.

And ironically, it might be the diverse membership of the G20 which helps us make better sense of the new world order. If we listen to what they are saying, we can help build a new decentralized vision of global governance that can serve the interests of everyone, big or small, rich or poor.

Some basic rethinking is urgently needed. For Europe, it will be especially difficult to adapt existing institutions to a rapidly changing world.

Why? Because for Europe, 1945 represented a near-total collapse of the pre-existing order. Postwar politics was about building something totally new: A new mentality, a new social order and above all a new understanding of history.

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