A post COVID-19 emergency: the design of a New Multilateral Matrix (own-initiative opinion)

EESC opinion: A post COVID-19 emergency: the design of a New Multilateral Matrix (own-initiative opinion)

The unprecedented magnitude of the COVID crisis requires an unprecedented, long-term and unequivocal response. International trade is a vital tool to finance recovery ge get out of the crisis. In these efforts, the EU must stay true to its values and ensure the protection of businesses, workers and people, leaving no one behind. Recovery must be based on sustainability, and inclusive and green growth. Green Deal measures are therefore more relevant than ever.

The COVID-19 hits at a time when multilateralism is experiencing a certain fatigue, embodied in the issues at the WTO Dispute settlement mechanism and the withdrawal of the United States (US) financing from the World Health Organization (WHO). This opinion reflects on a "New Multilateral Matrix", building on former proposals, and presents new solutions for the post-COVID-19 era. It aims to inspire new cooperation and more consistency in international organisations' decisions, in matters of trade and investment, decent work, social and human rights, and climate change. It encourages countries to abide by the principle of loyal cooperation in these organisations and boost synergies, rather than exploit loopholes. After each World War, people turned to international organisations to keep peace and prosperity. This unprecedented global sanitary crisis is pushing our boundaries and is thus precisely the moment to rethink global governance rules and to infuse some innovations.

A set of concrete proposals

These proposals take into account legal, political and organisational constraints, and aim to ensure better coordination between:

  • global social standards and climate change and environmental protection commitments;
  • trade-related rules and climate change and environmental protection treaties; and
  • trade-related rules and global social standards.

They include greater access to observer status, funding for the promotion of studies, creation of new working groups, enhanced inter-secretariat coordination, common policies in the field of research, interpretation of some existing legal provisions and political commitments like a WTO Ministerial Statement on Environment and Trade.

The EESC is aware that the changes must be initiated at a political level. We firmly believe that the EU, as one of the few global actors with a constitutional duty and mandate on good global governance, has a crucial role to play in shaping a more efficient multilateral matrix from within. The EU must lead by example and include more binding commitments on compliance with the Paris Agreement and the ILO key conventions in its own trade policy.