The third and final day of the course 'Strengthening the international role of the European Union at the Conference on the Future of Europe' has been marked by multilateralism as a key term directly associated with the European Union's policy and by the current crisis situation in which it finds itself. In the context of international relations, the idea of multilateralism would include creating an international public sphere in which to consolidate inter-state relations in order to create a space where the expression of states is free and reflects the plurality of countries, but recent emerging challenges have shown that the EU's symbols of identity in this area, i.e. multilateralism and cooperation, are becoming increasingly fragile and endangered.
Fulvio Attiná, Emeritus Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Catania, presented a first seminar on the subject of multilateralism in the framework of global public policies. The academic reflected on multilateralism, describing it as "a term to denote the responses of states, which are based on finding the best response to problems on a global scale, centred on the European Union".
Offering an answer to the question of what multilateralism is and the EU's attitude to it, Attiná said that "it is something that responds to large-scale problems, it is not a synonym for cooperation or collaboration between white members. Multilateralism was first used 70 years ago in international relations, in the face of the problem of not having an answer to global problems. Today we have problems that have to be brought under control on a global scale, such as the spread of the Covid pandemic," he says.
In this sense, it is a "term that has to be used only to name the responses of countries in the implementation of policies aimed at solving global problems. The best response in this case would be policy coordination.
"Multilateralism is agreeing on the commonality of the collective problem, selecting the institution and establishing policy-making to implement the rules of procedure. The first step in doing so is to establish a policy-making process and create specialised offices to implement it. Afterwards, the institutions that make the policy have to monitor its implementation and assist the countries to which the measure has been implemented," he argues.
"On a global scale on collective problems, institutions and policies are growing in number, but many of them are still in the development phase", among them "the issues of refugees, migration, clean energy and human rights compliance, which are transnational problems" but where "there are problems in creating a single position on solutions to these large-scale difficulties".
To solve these problems, the professor proposes "creating an EU Office for the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) with a vision of going further to provide possible responses to global problems such as migration". In this line, "a network of Member State representatives will be included to promote the convergence of national policies, taking as an example the implementation plan for climate change policies".
In addition, Attino expressed his hope that "this Conference will provide definitive answers to these problems.
In a second lecture, Cateria Carta, professor of international relations at Vesalius College, presented the topic of the European External Action Service, taking into account the prevailing methods of policy-making.
She criticised the fact that "foreign policy areas are still divided, which is why a new agreement involving all institutions should be implemented, as well as a new permanent president of the European Council, a reorganisation of the EU Council and the creation of a quasi foreign ministry, as well as sectoral ministries with the Commission".
As conclusions it proposes to implement "a steady policy of reform punctuated by long-term limits, a strategic partnership and to create potential space for further foreign policy orientation, provided that strong inter-institutional arrangements are put in place".
In conclusion, the deputy head of the EEAS Strategic Planning Division, Alexandros Yannis, closed the course by stating that "the main idea of the Future of Europe Conference is to listen". Yannis went on to finalise that "we must continue on the path of the struggle for a more democratic and participatory Europe, with institutional innovations and constitutional changes", in which the idea of participatory democracy based on citizenship is one of the fundamental bases of a new European project that is beginning to take off.
For his part, Francisco Aldecoa rounded off the seminar by describing it as an "intense, profound and quite complete course in which we have tried to bring together 30 professors and 30 students to finalise a declaration of proposals that manages to represent the different sensibilities of the citizens".