François Villeroy de Galhau: The future of multilateralism - three hard facts, three needs and one belief

Speech by Mr François Villeroy de Galhau, Governor of the Bank of France, at the 2023 Global Meeting of the Emerging Markets Forum, Marrakech, 11 October 2023. 

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
11 October 2023

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be with you at this 2023 Global Meeting of the Emerging Markets Forum, which we had the honour to host last year in Paris. Before we start, I would like to express my strong solidarity with the Moroccan people following the terrible earthquake. We all stand by Morocco's side.

The subject of my speech is not something to rejoice about either. We are collectively witnessing a growing crisis of multilateralism, which can lead to an increasingly fragmented world. As a committed European – but not a Euro-centric –, I firmly believe that multilateralism is our shared overarching public good. Hence, we must first acknowledge that its current form is more than imperfect, and that it needs to be adapted to the evolving international realities. Today, I would like to share a few personal views – I don't pretend these are French official views – on three hard facts (A), three needs in response (B), and one hope about the future of multilateralism (C). 3+3+1 equals seven, and I wouldn't pretend to compare with the great T.E. Lawrence and his "seven pillars of wisdom"- But let us try to plant some seeds of wisdom in this troubled world.


A. Let me start with the three hard facts.

A1. The disease of nationalism is on the rise, and is often coupled with populism, power politics and protectionism. Its most extreme expression obviously lies in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It has also spread to other countries in the world, and notably underpinned the rise of China. But let's acknowledge that we are all contaminated to various degrees, with the affirmation of India, or with the "America first" policy in the United States fuelling a trade war. It acted as a driving force for Brexit in Europe, while putting the Franco-German unity to the test. One month ago, the Economist had its cover on "How paranoid nationalism corrupts".i If we are not careful, the 2020s could bring us back to a situation reminiscent the darkest hours of the European history in the 1930s. The tragic events in Israel since Saturday are a very unfortunate reminder of this sad reality.