The iconic photographs depicting global summitry of the latter part of 2000s made visually clear that the structure of the international system was undergoing fundamental shifts. After the global financial crisis of 2008, instead of the closed conclave of the G7/8, the stage was packed with the much larger assemblage of the G20 leaders meeting in London and Pittsburgh to coordinate a multilateral response. Notably, the EU was represented in its own right, by Commission President Barroso amongst the G20 leaders. In contrast, at the Copenhagen Conference in 2009 to negotiate a new climate change treaty, the most revealing photograph captured the intimate, side-room negotiations among the US and so-called BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) that sidelined both the EU (and EU member states) and institutionalised multilateral negotiations to replace the Kyoto Protocol. These two summit photos reflect distinct visions of twenty-first century world order. Will multilateral institutions adapt to the changing distribution of power and the rise of non-Western countries as suggested by the emergence of the G20 in the process of multilateral management of collective problems, or will the emergence of the BASICs, the BRICs or some other acronym of rising powers entail an erosion of multilateral processes more closely associated with American (or Western) hegemony? What are the implications of emerging multipolarity for multilateralism and multilateral institutions? Where does the EU fit into the changing distribution of power in the twenty-first century, and what does multipolarity entail for the EU’s objective of promoting effective multilateralism?