Friday, June 18

The G7 of the great powers: since when is it celebrated and which countries have been part of this ‘rich man’s club’?


Their first meeting was in 1975, with a marked economic character. Since then, it has taken on a more political turn.

Activists representing the G7 leaders pull a 'vaccine' against Covid.
Activists representing the G7 leaders pull a ‘vaccine’ against Covid.AFP
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The G7, which this weekend celebrates its first summit in two years in the south-west of England, is an informal group of great powers created in 1975, initially to talk about the economy and which was expanding its scope. It usually deals with topics such as peace, environment and security, and this year it must dedicate an important place to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 summit, scheduled in the United States, It was canceled due to the global health crisis. The meeting is held annually in the country that holds the rotating presidency. The G7 members are Germany, Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The last edition was held in August 2019, when the Heads of State and Government met in Biarritz, in the south-west of France, in a context of strong tensions between the then US president Donald Trump and its western allies. Although the meetings usually end with a joint statement, the atmosphere between member countries is sometimes tense, as in 2018 in Canada, when Trump refused to sign the conclusions that he had nonetheless accepted.

What topics are on the table?

This year’s summit takes place from Friday to Sunday on the English coast, in the tourist seaside town of Carbis Bay. It should be an opportunity for your host, Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to promote his idea of ​​a “Global Britain” post Brexit, aimed at boosting the UK’s international influence after its complete departure from the European Union on December 31.

The debates will be dominated by the consequences of the pandemic, the Economic recovery and vaccination campaigns, which have an uneven pace in different parts of the world. The climate change It will also be high on the agenda, ahead of COP26 in November in the Scottish city of Glasgow.

Strengthening trade cooperation and multilateralism after the Trump years and improving girls’ access to education will also be among the priorities of the British presidency.

Since when is it celebrated and which countries comprise it?

The first meeting was held in the French town of Rambouillet in 1975, behind the oil crisis. Six countries – France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – participate in this “G6”, which in 1976 Canada joined to form the “G7”. It was at the initiative of the French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who proposed that the leaders meet every so often as the finance ministers used to do.

During the 1980s, the tension in relations between East and West gave a more political aspect to the meetings. The 1983 Williamsburg summit in the United States first adopted a declaration on security in Europe. That text supporting the US president’s policy Ronald Reagan Regarding Moscow, it was approved despite the reservations of the French François Mitterrand. The dissolution of the Soviet Union in late 1991 changed things. Russia was invited in 1992 and from 1998 it participated in the summits of the group, renamed “G8”.

Why is he always surrounded by controversy?

Starting in 1999, financial crises followed and the G8 was accused of being “a rich club“. They then began to meet with emerging countries, such as China, Brazil or South Africa, with a new configuration, the G2”, to try to solve or avoid these crises.

In 2001, the Genoa summit in Italy was marked by violent clashes between security forces and anti-globalization activists. A young Italian died from a bullet shot in the head by a policeman and more than 500 people were injured. There were also demonstrations at other summits, always held under close police surveillance.

Russia expelled

In 2014, Russia, under the presidency of Vladimir Putin, she was expelled from the G8 following the annexation of the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine and subjected to sanctions. The G8 summit scheduled for that year in Russia was canceled and the G8 became G7 again. Trump spoke out in favor of Russia’s return, but without gaining much support from his allies, although French President Emmanuel Macron considered the possibility. The new US president, Joe Biden, will meet at his first summit with Putin shortly after the G7, on June 16 in Geneva.

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