Brussels (Brussels Morning) This year’s Munich Security Report, published ahead of the upcoming Munich Security Conference, focuses on the relationship between Western democracies and China, and identifies the growing Asian power as both a systemic rival and a vital partner in tackling global problems.
The 160-page report, entitled “Between States of Matter – Competition and Cooperation”, stresses that the democratic, rights-based order of Western countries is being challenged in the current geopolitical landscape, especially by countries such as China. At the same time, major global challenges require joint efforts by all major powers, forcing the Western countries to seek an optimal balance between adversity and cooperation.
The report emphasises that the past year not only exhibited a lack of joint action by Western countries on crucial global issues, but also saw continued attacks on liberal-democratic norms in key Western countries. These ideological attacks culminated in a very real attack on the US Capitol, the clearest illustration of the global threat to democracy.
The paper also offers some hope for the future, noting that global leaders like US President Joe Biden, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and others have voiced their support for a new beginning in the transatlantic relationships, and for revamping cooperation among liberal democracies. “After what can be called an ‘autocratic decade’, liberal democracies are now willing to push back to turn the ‘illiberal tide’”, the report notes.
However, the report also cites Europe’s lack of action and influence in its failure to assert its capability and autonomy in its very neighbourhood. The result is that other powers are able to exploit the EU’s absence in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Accordingly, the report notes, the EU must tackle major deficits in the areas of capacity, strategic direction, and unity.