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Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris

Taking multilateralism to the next level

At a summit meeting in Paris, Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Chinese President, the French President and the President of the European Commission have agreed to cooperate more closely. To this end multilateralism must be taken to the next level, and an agenda of trust established, said Angela Merkel after the meeting. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel walks into the Elysée Palace with French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. In Paris Chancellor Merkel met for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese President Xi Jinping and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Photo: Bundesregierung/Denzel

A new multilateralism includes "reforming the United Nations Security Council, developing the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and reforming the World Trade Organization (WTO) as we have resolved within the scope of the G20," stressed Chancellor Angela Merkel. It also means bringing the World Bank into line with new developments, activating the G20, enforcing the agreement on climate change and further developing the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

At times of major change and shifting economic weight, it is important to work together to establish a new balance. In this context the definition of the concepts of "strategic partnership" and "strategic competition" in the most positive sense are vitally important.

Full EU-China summit

For September 2020, under Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Chancellor announced a "full" summit involving all European Union member states and China.

She expressed her hope that some important activities would be completed by then, including the agreement on investment protection, the designation of country of origin, and the active European and German role in the Silk Road initiative "One Belt, One Road". A degree of reciprocity still needs to be achieved in this context, she added.

But the project per se, continued Angela Merkel, is "a very good illustration of our mutual dependence and our interconnectedness".

Putting in place a multilateral order

After the end of the Second World War, more than seventy years ago, we learned from history and put in place and shaped the multilateral order we have today.

Now, we are at a crossroads, said the Chancellor. "Can we bring this multilateral system into a new, changed era, and modify it as required, or will this multilateral system ossify, will it prove to be completely inflexible and thus, historically, will it one day be unable to do the job it must do?"

Agenda of trust

Chancellor Angela Merkel also advocated multilateral cooperation to resolve international conflicts. "That does not mean that our views are always the same, but it does mean that there is a climate within which we are convinced that every actor takes into account the interests of the other side too, rather than focusing exclusively on their own interests," declared Angela Merkel.

The Chancellor underscored the special importance of the trilateral constellation "European Union, USA and China" and said, with a view to the USA, "There can be no multilateralism without the United States of America."

Cooperation with third countries

The chance to step up cooperation with third countries is also particularly important for Angela Merkel. "We have a common interest in a development agenda for Africa. Europe is Africa’s neighbour and Africa is Europe’s neighbour."

China, she said, has demonstrated how, within a short space of time, a country can develop and raise people up out of poverty. We can learn from this, she pointed out, and from the long history of cooperation between Europe and Africa. Angela Merkel said she is convinced that all sides are interested in doing their bit to strengthen multilateralism.

Mar 26, 2019