Download publication

Policy Contribution

Should we give up on global governance?

The pervasive gridlock affecting the traditional global governance approach calls into question the idea of broadening its scope beyond its core remit, and it calls for alternatives, either as substitutes for obsolete arrangements or to address emerging collective action problems in new, inadequately covered fields.

By: and Date: October 23, 2018 Topic: Global Economics & Governance

This paper, which partially draws on the author’s Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa inaugural lecture at the EUI, is an updated and augmented version of a contribution to the Hertie School’s Governance Report 2018, published under the title ‘Is global governance passé?’.

The high point of global governance was reached in the mid-1990s around the creation of the World Trade Organisation. It was hoped that globalisation would be buttressed by a system of global rules and a network of specialised global institutions. Two decades later these hopes have been dashed by a series of global governance setbacks, the rise of economic nationalism and the dramatic change of attitude of the United States administration. From trade to the environment, a retreat from multilateralism is observable. The 2008 elevation of the G20 to leaders’ level was an exception to this trend. But the G20 is no more than a political steering body.

The reasons for this retreat partially arise from political developments in individual countries. But such factors hide a series specific roadblocks to global governance: the growing number and diversity of countries involved; the mounting rivalry between the US and China; doubts about globalisation and the distribution of the associated benefits; the obsolescence of global rules and institutions; imbalances within the global governance regime; and increased complexity.

What, then, should be the way forward? The demand for global governance has not diminished, but support for binding multilateral arrangements has. There is a need for alternative governance technologies that better accommodate the diversity of players, provide for more flexibility and rely less on compulsion. From competition to financial regulation, such arrangements have been developed in a series of fields already. They are often hailed as providing a solution to the governance conundrum. But their effectiveness should be assessed critically. Can they overcome the free-rider curse and enforcement problems? Usual game theory suggests not. Not all games are similar, however, and some collective action problems can be tackled without recourse to coercion.

Against this background, multilateralists hesitate over the choice of a strategy. One option would be to seek to preserve the existing order to the greatest extent possible. Its downside is that it does not address the underlying problems. An alternative option is to try to redesign international arrangements, putting the emphasis on flexibility and voluntary participation. Its downside is that it risks overlooking the intrinsic problems of international or global collective action. A potentially more promising approach would be to define the minimum conditions that the multilateral framework must fulfil to provide a strong-enough basis for flexible, variable-geometry and possibly informal arrangements.

In the end, we should neither cultivate the nostalgia of yesterday’s order nor invest our hopes in ineffective international cooperation. The narrow path ahead is to establish a sufficient, critical multilateral base for flexible arrangements and to equip policymakers with a precise toolkit for determining, on a field-by-field basis, the minimum requirements for effective collective action.

Read article More on this topic
 

Blog Post

A world divided: global vaccine trade and production

COVID-19 has reinforced traditional vaccine production patterns, but the global vaccine trade has changed considerably.

By: Lionel Guetta-Jeanrenaud, Niclas Poitiers and Reinhilde Veugelers Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 20, 2021
Read article More on this topic
 

Opinion

Increasing the global supply of essential medical supplies: Time for Europe to step up its global leadership

Europe has already made a significant financial contribution to beating the pandemic, now it has the oppurtunity and moral responsibility to do more.

By: Anne Bucher and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 19, 2021
Read article More by this author
 

Blog Post

The European Union’s carbon border mechanism and the WTO

To avoid any backlash, the European Union should work with other World Trade Organisation members to define basic principles of carbon border adjustment mechanisms.

By: André Sapir Topic: Energy & Climate, Global Economics & Governance Date: July 19, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Upcoming Event

Sep
2
11:15

Towards a new global trade regime: reform of the WTO

Bruegel Annual Meetings, Day 2 - the World Trade Organisation has been going through trying times, a phenomenon amplified by the pandemic. Why are we headed towards a new global trade regime? And what lies ahead for the WTO?

Speakers: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Palais des Academies, Rue Ducale 1
Read about event More on this topic
 

Upcoming Event

Sep
3
09:00

The role of the EU's trade strategy for an inclusive and sustainable recovery

Bruegel Annual Meetings, Day 3 - We are delighted to welcome Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice President of the European Commission for An Economy that Works for People to talk about Europe's trade strategy.

Speakers: Valdis Dombrovskis, Alicia García-Herrero and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Palais des Academies, Rue Ducale 1
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

Could the RMB dislodge the dollar as a reserve currency?

The dollar remains the world’s largest reserve currency, but it is facing both domestic and external risks.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 14, 2021
Read about event
 

Past Event

Past Event

Financing for Pandemic Preparedness and Response

How can we better prepare for future pandemics? In this event, co-hosted by the Center for Global Development and Bruegel think tanks, speakers will present "A Global Deal for Our Pandemic Age", a report of the G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.

Speakers: Masood Ahmed, Victor J. Dzau, Amanda Glassman and Lawrence H. Summers Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: July 14, 2021
Read article More on this topic
 

External Publication

A Global Deal for Our Pandemic Age

Report of the G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.

By: Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Lawrence H. Summers, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ana Botin, Mohamed El-Erian, Jacob Frenkel, Rebeca Grynspan, Naoko Ishii, Michael Kremer, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Luis Alberto Moreno, Lucrezia Reichlin, John-Arne Røttingen, Vera Songwe, Mark Suzman, Tidjane Thiam, Jean-Claude Trichet, Ngaire Woods, ZHU Min, Masood Ahmed, Guntram B. Wolff, Victor J. Dzau and Jeremy Farrar Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 9, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Strengthening the weak links: future of supply chains

What new supply chains trends will we see in the post-pandemic era?

Speakers: Ebru Özdemir, André Sapir and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 7, 2021
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

The end of globalisation as we know it

The tension between the unprecedented need for global collective action and a growing aspiration to rebuild political communities behind national borders is a defining challenge for today’s policymakers.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 1, 2021
Read article Download PDF More on this topic
 

Policy Contribution

Commercialisation contracts: European support for low-carbon technology deployment

To cut the cost of decarbonisation significantly, the best solution would be to provide investors with a predictable carbon price that corresponds to the envisaged decarbonisation pathway.

By: Ben McWilliams and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 1, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Multilateralism in banking regulation and supervision

This members-only event welcomes Carolyn Rogers Secretary General of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

Speakers: Carolyn Rogers and Nicolas Véron Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 24, 2021
Load more posts