Are G7 and G20 alibis for poor political results?
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosts the Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations in the Bavarian Alps in southern Germany, questions should be raised over whether the annual summit is proving its worth, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.
The leaders of US, Japan, Canada, France, UK and Italy are her guests, protected by an army of some 17,000 German police as well as the personal guards of the guests.
The usual protests were mainly disbanded by heavy alpine storms.
The G7’s precursor - G6 - was founded in 1975 by France’s President Giscard d'Estaing following the end of the Bretton Woods monetary order and in the wake of the oil crisis. He summoned the major industrialised countries to discuss world issues ‘in a frank and orderly manner’. Canada joined in 1976 and the group became the G7.
The G7 countries comprise some 10 per cent of the world population and more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP.
The presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, are also attending.
Russia joined the G7, becoming G8, after the fall of the Soviet Union - formally becoming a member in 1998 - but was excluded after the annexation of Crimea in March 2014 as a ‘punishment’.
Different agendas are on the table this year. US President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined by Donald Tusk (Poland’s Prime Minister from 2007 to 2014) say sanctions on Russia are a priority and must stay until the Kremlin implements a deal to end fighting in Ukraine. However, the American and British views on delivering arms to Ukraine differ from the German view.
The multibillion-dollar trade partnerships between the EU and the US, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), are topics, which pose contrary internal political problems.
Jean-Claude Juncker vented his anger over the Greek crisis and accused Greek PM Alexis Tsipras of undermining negotiations.
Although the G7 has lost some of its ‘glamour’ to the G20 summits, its importance remains as it represents - especially when including the whole European Union – about 50 per cent of the world’s GDP.
The first meetings in the 1970s had results when it focused on the economy. Agendas however became wider and wider and - as with the G20 meetings - the outcomes have become watered down.
Sometimes the summits appear to be an alibi for poor political results.