Politics & Economics

2024 will be crucial in defining the future world balances: Eu must rediscover itself

April 2024
By Mario Mauro

We have been witnessing increasing global conflict for years now. Many of today’s wars are unfolding in a band of land that stretches from the Baltic States to Mauritania, encircling Europe. Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria, Israel, and the Sahel are all areas close to European borders where wars have been raging for years, often overlooked by major international media. To resign ourselves to believing that these conflicts are merely regional clashes between enemy populations fighting over a handful of land makes us incapable of understanding that, in fact, these conflicts are all part of a single larger struggle.

There is a common thread that links the coups in the Sahel with tensions around Taiwan, the war in Ukraine, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the balance of the new world order is at stake. Historically, after every conflict, the victorious powers agree to divide the spoils and decide the new zones of influence. The last time this happened was in 1945: the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain decided during the Yalta Conference what the world would look like after the end of World War II.

Nearly eighty years later, however, those agreements no longer hold. The reason lies in the fact that in today’s multipolar world new actors are seeking recognition of their status. China, India, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are just a few examples of powers that were not present at Yalta—some of them did not even exist then—but today want to become reference points in a world no longer marked by the Cold War’s dualism. The most effective way to assert oneself on the global chessboard is through armed conflict: distant and often forgotten territories become the theaters of clashes between these powers, which never confront each other directly but sacrifice smaller and defenseless states on the altar of power.

The European Union was also absent at the Yalta Conference. At the end of World War II, to guarantee European peoples peace, freedom, and prosperity, victors and vanquished agreed to create what is still a unique entity in the international landscape. Its origin, however, also gives Europe the great task of mediating between opposing powers and being a shining example of peace and cooperation among peoples who have fought each other for centuries.

Before a major global conflict for world leadership erupts, it is necessary for old and new powers to agree on defining the balances of the near future to ensure a long and lasting peace for the world. Only if Europe rediscovers itself and its role can it truly count on the world stage and not have to suffer decisions made by others who do not care about its history and future.

The year 2024, which has been described by many as “the most electoral year ever,” will see more than two billion people called to vote. This great test of democracy and freedom—from the United States to India, passing through Europe—will be crucial in defining the balances of the future in a world that is increasingly split between democracies and autocracies.