Saving the Multilateral System – POLITICO

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ROME – After saving the euro, Mario Draghi has embarked on a new mission: to save the multilateral system, even as powerful autocrats seem intent on thwarting it.

As host of this weekend’s G20 Leaders Summit, Draghi – the former European Central Bank chief famous for declaring that he will do “whatever it takes” to save the European single currency – has the most prominent role on the world stage since turning to politics by accepting the appointment of a president Italy’s ministers in February.

The summit in the Italian capital will be a major test of the functioning of the multilateral system as leaders struggle to make important and difficult decisions on combating the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.

It would also be a big test for Draghi, who had to rearrange the schedule to accommodate the Chinese and Russian presidents, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, who would only participate via video conference.

Officially, Xi and Putin have said they will not attend due to coronavirus restrictions, but their absence raises questions about the durability of Western-led multilateral structures such as the G-20.

If Draghi can remotely manage their engagement and build consensus on an ambitious declaration of leaders, it will provide a bridge to upcoming G-20 summits in Indonesia, India and Brazil — rising powers in Asia and Latin America, where Xi and Putin may feel less inclined. to adopt a confrontational stance.

If it fails, and the summit ends in disagreement or you miss some important decisions, it could signal the disintegration and resurgence of the bilateral policy often favored by Moscow, Beijing and sometimes London.

Stefano Stefanini, the former Italian ambassador to NATO, said Draghi’s symbolic challenge would be to show that the G-20 “can work and deliver despite Xi Putin’s disdain. This is the main challenge: to prove that absentees are always wrong.”

The amount of contempt intended remains unclear. By all accounts, Xi has not left China since the beginning of the epidemic, and Putin has made only rare trips abroad, such as a summit with US President Joe Biden in Geneva in June.

Draghi’s international reputation is very high, as the central banker who rescued the single euro currency in the summer of 2012 at the height of the debt crisis. But this may not be enough.

On the climate, Italy, as the holder of the G20 presidency, has worked closely with the United Kingdom, the current G7 chair and host of the COP26 climate conference, which begins in Glasgow on Sunday.

But a deal in Rome to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius hangs in the balance. “We especially need the largest emitters, the G20, to make even stronger commitments through 2030 if we are to keep 1.5 on hand during this critical decade,” announce Alok Sharma, President of COP26.

The success in Rome, in terms of unwavering commitment and financial support, will send a powerful message to the nearly 200 nations that will gather in Scotland. Failure would make progress in Glasgow more difficult.

On the pandemic, Draghi is also under pressure to make the G-20 deliver, particularly when it comes to providing vaccines to the developing world.

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is World Health Organization Global Health Funding Ambassador, noted that by the end of the year, the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada will have 600 million doses of vaccine that they have not used.

“That would be enough to vaccinate 40 percent of the population if they were evenly distributed,” he said in to interview With Italian newspaper La Repubblica, she urged the G20 to “make history”.

Brown – like Draghi, a veteran of the financial crises that has gripped the world for nearly a decade – said “It is wonderful for Italy to have such a well-known person lead the G-20.” But he also warned that “its decisions will judge the G20”.

Define success

Teresa Coratella, an analyst with the Rome office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the biggest success that could emerge from the summit would be leaders “who realize that multilateralism will be used as a key framework for events and crisis management”.

Officials working on the summit’s closing statement say that despite their leaders’ physical absence, their Chinese and Russian counterparts have been so active in preparing for the gathering that there is too much at stake in Rome that they cannot ignore.

Some diplomats argue that much of the heavy burden on climate has been done by Americans, who have returned fully to the multilateral framework after the Trump years.

But European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen dedicated the Italian prime minister with praise.

“The collaboration with Mario Draghi has been excellent,” she said at a press conference focused on the G20 on Thursday. She said the May G20 health summit in Rome “was really laying the groundwork for what we are discussing now at the Leaders Summit in Rome.”

According to a draft final declaration seen by Politico, the leaders are discussing an agreement to “help progress toward global goals to vaccinate at least 40 percent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 and 70 percent by mid-2022.” They are also looking at Other measures, including the “G20 Finance and Health Joint Working Group” to improve global cooperation and dialogue between the ministries of finance and health.

On the climate front, the draft reveals the difficulty of trying to reach an agreement. Language has yet to be finalized on keeping the 1.5°C target “within hand” and by the 2050 deadline to reach net global greenhouse gas emissions or carbon neutrality.

Another critical issue is whether leaders can agree on financial commitments to help developing countries deal with climate change — notably by fulfilling a joint pledge by developed countries to mobilize $100 billion annually.

“If there is a $100 billion commitment, it will likely be a success,” said Natalie Tucci, director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali Institute, a think-tank.

Embrace geopolitics

To achieve results, Draghi embraced foreign policy and international relations. In Italy, as in the rest of Europe and beyond, these areas increasingly became the domain of prime ministers or presidents, marginalizing foreign ministers.

Prior to the summit, Draghi worked primarily with his diplomatic advisor, Luigi Mattiolo, the former ambassador to Germany, and with Economy and Finance Minister Daniele Franco.

He arrived at the meeting having already helped secure a deal among G20 finance ministers on a plan that would see multinationals pay the minimum tax rate worldwide.

Perhaps surprising to a former central bank, it turned the G-20, often seen primarily as a venue for economic issues, into a more geopolitical forum. This was demonstrated by Extraordinary video conference of G20 leaders on Afghanistan, which was held earlier this month, although Putin and Xi have also ignored it.

Even before the summit began, some Italian politicians were already hailing it as a success for their country, backed by a prime minister who is a strong supporter of the European Union and the transatlantic relationship.

“Italy is at the center of the alliance and not at the center of anti-Western attitudes” with Draghi, said Lea Quartabile, leader of the centre-left Democratic Party in the lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee. In contrast to previous Italian governments that dealt openly with Moscow and Beijing.

David M. Herzenhorn Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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