G8 Explained

The Group of Eight (G8) is a forum for the governments of eight of the world's largest economies. The forum originated with a 1975 summit hosted by France that brought together representatives of six governments: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, thus leading to the name Group of Six or G6. The summit became known as the Group of Seven or G7 the following year with the addition of Canada. In 1997, Russia was added to group which then became known as the G8.[1] The European Union is represented within the G8 but cannot host or chair summits.[2]

"G8" can refer to the member states in aggregate or to the annual summit meeting of the G8 heads of government. The former term, G6, is now frequently applied to the six most populous countries within the European Union. G8 ministers also meet throughout the year, such as the G7/8 finance ministers (who meet four times a year), G8 foreign ministers, or G8 environment ministers.

Collectively, the G8 nations comprise 53.0% of global nominal GDP and 42.5% of global GDP (PPP). Each calendar year, the responsibility of hosting the G8 rotates through the member states in the following order: France, United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada. The holder of the presidency sets the agenda, hosts the summit for that year, and determines which ministerial meetings will take place. Lately, both France and the United Kingdom have expressed a desire to expand the group to include five developing countries, referred to as the Outreach Five (O5) or the Plus Five: Brazil, People's Republic of China, India, Mexico, and South Africa. These countries have participated as guests in previous meetings, which are sometimes called G8+5.

With the G-20 major economies growing in stature since the 2008 Washington summit, world leaders from the group announced at their Pittsburgh summit on September 25, 2009, that the group will replace the G8 as the main economic council of wealthy nations.[3] [4]

History

The concept of a forum for the world's major industrialized democracies emerged following the 1973 oil crisis. In 1974, a series of meetings in the library of the White House in Washington, D.C. was known as the "Library Group".[5] This was an informal gathering of senior financial officials from the United States, the United Kingdom, West Germany, Japan and France.[6] In 1975, French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing invited the heads of government from West Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States to a summit in Château de Rambouillet. The six leaders agreed to an annual meeting organized under a rotating presidency, forming the Group of Six (G6). The following year, Canada joined the group at the behest of Germany's Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and U.S. President Gerald Ford[7] and the group became the Group of Seven (G7). The European Union is represented by the President of the European Commission and the leader of the country that holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The President of the European Commission has attended all meetings since it was first invited by the United Kingdom in 1977[8] and the Council President now also regularly attends.

Following 1994's G7 summit in Naples, Russian officials held separate meetings with leaders of the G7 after the group's summits. This informal arrangement was dubbed the Political 8 (P8) – or, colloquially, the G7+1. At the invitation of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair and President of the United States Bill Clinton,[9] Russia formally joined the group in 1997, resulting in the Group of Eight, or G8.

Structure and activities

By design, the G8 deliberately lacks an administrative structure like those for international organizations, such as the United Nations or the World Bank. The group does not have a permanent secretariat, or offices for its members.

The presidency of the group rotates annually among the member countries, with each new term beginning on 1 January of the year. The country holding the presidency is responsible for planning and hosting a series of ministerial-level meetings, leading up to a mid-year summit attended by the heads of government. The president of the European Commission participates as an equal in all summit events.[10]

The ministerial meetings bring together ministers responsible for various portfolios to discuss issues of mutual or global concern. The range of topics include health, law enforcement, labor, economic and social development, energy, environment, foreign affairs, justice and interior, terrorism, and trade. There are also a separate set of meetings known as the G8+5, created during the 2005 Gleneagles, Scotland summit, that is attended by finance and energy ministers from all eight member countries in addition to the five "outreach countries" which are also known as the Group of FiveBrazil, People's Republic of China, India, Mexico, and South Africa.[11]

In June 2005, justice ministers and interior ministers from the G8 countries agreed to launch an international database on pedophiles.[12] The G8 officials also agreed to pool data on terrorism, subject to restrictions by privacy and security laws in individual countries.[13]

Global energy

See main article: International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation and Climate Investment Funds.

At the Heiligendamm Summit in 2007, the G8 acknowledged a proposal from the EU for a worldwide initiative on efficient energy use. They agreed to explore, along with the International Energy Agency, the most effective means to promote energy efficiency internationally. A year later, on 8 June 2008, the G8 along with China, India, South Korea and the European Community established the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation, at the Energy Ministerial meeting hosted by Japan holding 2008 G8 Presidency, in Aomori.[14]

G8 Finance Ministers, whilst in preparation for the 34th Summit of the G8 Heads of State and Government in Toyako, Hokkaido, met on the 13 and 14 June 2008, in Osaka, Japan. They agreed to the “G8 Action Plan for Climate Change to Enhance the Engagement of Private and Public Financial Institutions.” In closing, Ministers supported the launch of new Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) by the World Bank, which will help existing efforts until a new framework under the UNFCCC is implemented after 2012.[15]

Annual summit

The annual G8 leaders summit is attended by the heads of government[16] The member country holding the G8 presidency is responsible for organizing and hosting the year's summit.

The serial annual summits can be parsed chronologically in arguably distinct ways, including as the sequence of host countries for the summits has recurred over time, series, etc.[17]

DateHost countryHost leaderLocation heldWebsiteNotes
1stNovember 15–17, 1975Valéry Giscard d'EstaingRambouillet (Castle of Rambouillet)G6 Summit
2ndJune 27–28, 1976Gerald R. FordDorado, Puerto Rico[18] Also called "Rambouillet II;" Canada joins the group, forming the G7
3rdMay 7–8, 1977James CallaghanLondonPresident of the European Commission is invited to join the annual G-7 summits
4thJuly 16–17, 1978Helmut SchmidtBonn, North Rhine-Westphalia
5thJune 28–29, 1979Masayoshi ŌhiraTokyo
6thJune 22–23, 1980Francesco CossigaVenice
7thJuly 20–21, 1981Pierre E. TrudeauMontebello, Quebec
8thJune 4–6, 1982François MitterrandVersailles
9thMay 28–30, 1983Ronald ReaganWilliamsburg, Virginia
10thJune 7–9, 1984Margaret ThatcherLondon
11thMay 2–4, 1985Helmut KohlBonn, North Rhine-Westphalia
12thMay 4–6, 1986Yasuhiro NakasoneTokyo
13thJune 8–10, 1987Amintore FanfaniVenice
14thJune 19–21, 1988Brian MulroneyToronto
15thJuly 14–16, 1989François MitterrandParis
16thJuly 9–11, 1990George H. W. BushHouston, Texas
17thJuly 15–17, 1991John MajorLondon
18thJuly 6–8, 1992Helmut KohlMunich, Bavaria
19thJuly 7–9, 1993Kiichi MiyazawaTokyo
20thJuly 8–10, 1994Silvio BerlusconiNaples
21stJune 15–17, 1995Jean ChrétienHalifax, Nova Scotia[19]
22ndJune 27–29, 1996Jacques ChiracLyonInternational organizations' debut to G8 Summits periodically. The invited ones here were: United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.[20]
23rdJune 20–22, 1997Bill ClintonDenver, Colorado[21] Russia joins the group, forming G8
24thMay 15–17, 1998Tony BlairBirmingham, England[22]
25thJune 18–20, 1999Gerhard SchröderCologne, North Rhine-Westphalia[23] First Summit of the G-20 major economies at Berlin
26thJuly 21–23, 2000Yoshiro MoriNago, Okinawa[24] Formation of the G8+5 starts, when South Africa was invited. Since then, it has been invited to the Summit annually without interruption. Also, with permission from a G8 leader, other nations were invited to the Summit on a periodical basis for the first time. Nigeria, Algeria and Senegal accepted their invitations here. The World Health Organization was also invited for the first time, too.
27thJuly 20–22, 2001Silvio BerlusconiGenoa[25] Leaders from Bangladesh, Mali and El Salvador accepted their invitations here. Demonstrator Carlo Giuliani is shot and killed by police during a violent demonstration. One of the largest and most violent anti-globalization movement protests occurred for the 27th G8 summit.[26] Following those events and the September 11 attacks two months later in 2001, the G8 have met at more remote locations.
28thJune 26–27, 2002Jean ChrétienKananaskis, Alberta[27] Russia gains permission to officially host a G8 Summit.
29thJune 2–3, 2003Jacques ChiracÉvian-les-Bainshttp://www.g8.fr/The G8+5 was unofficially made, when China, India, Brazil, and Mexico were invited to this Summit for the first time. South Africa has joined the G8 Summit since 2000. Other first-time nations that were invited by the French president included: Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Switzerland.
30thJune 8–10, 2004George W. BushSea Island, Georgia[28] A record number of leaders from 12 different nations accepted their invitations here. Amongst a couple of veteran nations, the others were: Ghana, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Yemen and Uganda. Also, the state funeral of former president Ronald Reagan took place in Washington during the summit.
31stJuly 6–8, 2005Tony BlairGleneagles, Scotland[29] The G8+5 was officially formed. On the second day of the meeting, suicide bombers killed 52 people on the London Underground and a bus. Nations that were invited for the first time were Ethiopia and Tanzania. The African Union and the International Energy Agency made their debut here. During the 31st G8 summit in United Kingdom, 225,000 people took to the streets of Edinburgh as part of the Make Poverty History campaign calling for Trade Justice, Debt Relief and Better Aid. Numerous other demonstrations also took place challenging the legitimacy of the G8.[30]
32ndJuly 15–17, 2006Vladimir PutinStrelna, St. Petersburghttp://en.g8russia.ru/First G8 Summit on Russian soil. Also, the International Atomic Energy Agency and UNESCO made their debut here.
33rdJune 6–8, 2007Angela MerkelHeiligendamm, Mecklenburg-Vorpommernhttp://www.g-8.org/Seven different international organizations accepted their invitations to this Summit. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Commonwealth of Independent States made their debut here.
34thJuly 7–9, 2008Yasuo FukudaToyako (Lake Toya), Hokkaido[31] Nations that accepted their G8 Summit invitations for the first time are: Australia, Indonesia and South Korea.
35thJuly 8–10, 2009Silvio BerlusconiL'Aquila, Abruzzohttp://www.g8italia2009.itThis G8 Summit was originally planned to be in La Maddalena (Sardinia), but was moved to L'Aquila as a way of showing Prime Minister Berlusconi's desire to help the region in and around L'Aquila after the earthquake that hit the area on the April 6th, 2009. Nations that accepted their invitations for the first time were: Angola, Denmark, Netherlands and Spain.[32] A record of TEN (10) international organizations were represented in this G8 Summit. For the first time, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Food Programme, and the International Labour Organization accepted their invitations.[33]
36thJune 25–26, 2010[34] Stephen HarperHuntsville, Ontario[35] [36] Malawi, Colombia, Haiti, and Jamaica accepted their invitations for the first time.[37]
37thMay 26–27, 2011Nicolas SarkozyDeauville,[38] [39] Basse-Normandie[40] Guinea, Niger, Côte d'Ivoire and Tunisia accepted their invitations for the first time. Also, the League of Arab States made its debut to the meeting.[41]
38thMay 18–19, 2012Barack ObamaCamp David[42] The summit was originally planned for Chicago, along with the NATO summit, but it was announced officially on March 5, 2012, that the G8 summit will be held at the more private location of Camp David and at one day earlier than previously scheduled.[43]
39th2013David CameronTBDBritain hopes to refocus the event, possibly by discussing a single issue such as the Middle East and inviting key players, such as Turkey or Israel. David Cameron is critical of the value and cost of the G8 if there is too much focus on communiqués as opposed to building trust between world leaders. He has been looking at the idea of attaching the G8 summit to another event such as the UN general assembly.[44]
40th2014Vladimir PutinMoscow[45]

Member facts

All eight of the G8 countries are amongst the thirteen top-ranked leading export countries.[46] Six of the G8 countries are among the top 10 with the largest gold reserves (USA, Germany, Italy, France, Russia and Japan.)Some of the world's 18 largest major stock exchanges by traded value and market capitalization are in G8 countries (U.S., Japan, UK, Canada, Germany, Russia.) G8 countries are represented in the top eleven economies (by nominal GDP) of the world, according to latest (2010 data) International Monetary Fund's statistics. Also, five countries of the G8 have nominal GDP per capita above US$40,000 (USA, Canada, Japan, France, Germany), from the same 2010 IMF data. However, only four of the G8 nations have a sovereign wealth fund, administered by either a national or a state/provincial government (Russia, USA, France, Canada).[47] Along with that, the G8 are ranked in the top thirty of nations with large amounts of foreign-exchange reserves in their central banks. The G8 nations also have some of the world's largest, most technologically advanced, and most powerful militaries. Four of the G8 nations have nuclear weapons in operation (France, Russia, UK, USA),[48] [49] three others have the capability to rapidly produce nuclear warheads (Canada, Germany, Japan), and some have nuclear weapons sharing programs (Canada, Germany, Italy).[50] [51] [52]

A few of the world's 10 largest oil producers (Russia, USA, and Canada) and the countries with the third and eighth largest oil reserves (Canada and Russia respectively) are in the G8. Seven of the nine largest nuclear energy producers are in the G8 (USA, France, Japan, Russia, Germany, Canada, UK), even though Germany will wean itself from nuclear power by 2022.[53] The 7 largest donors to the UN budget for the 2011 annual fiscal year are in the G8 (U.S., Japan, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Canada.) The G8 and the BRIC countries makes up almost all of the 15-nation "trillion dollar club of nations." All of the G8 and G8+5 countries (minus South Africa) are in the top twenty nations that are ranked by the amount of voting power and special drawing rights (SDRs) in the IMF organization.

Cumulative influence of member nations

Together the eight countries making up the G8 represent about 14% of the world population, but they represent about 60% of the Gross World Product[54] as measured by gross domestic product, all eight nations being within the top 12 countries according to the CIA World Factbook. (see the CIA World Factbook column in List of countries by GDP (nominal)), the majority of global military power (seven are in the top 8 nations for military expenditure[55]), and almost all of the world's active nuclear weapons.[56] In 2007, the combined G8 military spending was US$850 billion. This is 72% of the world's total military expenditures. (see List of countries and federations by military expenditures) Four of the G8 members, the United Kingdom, United States, France and Russia, together account for 96–99% of the world's nuclear weapons.[57] (see List of states with nuclear weapons)

Criticism

Some criticism centres on the assertion that members of G8 do not do enough to help global problems e.g. debt, global warming and the AIDS problem – due to strict medicine patent policy and other issues related to globalization.

Decline

The G8's relevance is unclear.[58] Critics argue that the G8 has now become unrepresentative of the world's most powerful economies. In particular, China has surpassed every economy except the United States,[59] while Brazil has surpassed Canada, Italy and UK (according to the IMF).

See also

Further reading

External links

Notes and References

  1. Web site: 2008 Evian summit – Questions about the G8. G8.fr. 2011-05-21.
  2. The EU has the privileges and obligations of membership but does not host/chair summits. It is represented by the Commission and Council Presidents. 967. Web site: EU and the G8. 2007-09-25. European Commission.
  3. News: Officials: G-20 to supplant G-8 as international economic council. CNN. 2009-09-25. 2009-09-25.
  4. News: G20 to replace the G8. SBS. 2009-09-26. 2009-09-26.
  5. Bayne, Nicholas et al. (2000). Hanging in There, p. 34.
  6. Farnsworth, Clyde H. "A Secret Society of Finance Ministers," New York Times. May 8, 1977.
  7. http://www.canadianencyclopedia.ca/PrinterFriendly.cfm?Params=A1ARTFET_E10 G8: The Most Exclusive Club in the World, Thomas S. Axworthy, The Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica Foundation of Canada, Toronto, Undated
  8. Web site: EU and the G8. 2006-07-17. European Union. http://web.archive.org/web/20071226041143/http%3A//www.deljpn.ec.europa.eu/union/showpage_en_union.Harry.g8.php. December 26, 2007. yes.
  9. http://www.theglobalist.com/storyid.aspx?StoryId=5151 "Russia — Odd Man Out in the G-8", Mark Medish, The Globalist, 02-24-2006
  10. [Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan)]
  11. Web site: G5 Overview; Evolución del Grupo de los Cinco. Groupoffive.org. 2010-06-27.
  12. http://society.guardian.co.uk/children/story/0,,1509107,00.html G8 to launch international pedophile database
  13. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1509218,00.html G8 to pool data on terrorism
  14. http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/08/380&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=e The International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC).
  15. http://www.climate-l.org/2008/06/g8-finance-mini.html CLIMATE-L.ORG: G8 Finance Ministers Support Climate Investment Funds
  16. Feldman. Adam. What's Wrong With The G-8. Forbes. New York. July 7, 2008.
  17. Hajnal, Peter I. (1999).
  18. Shabecoff, Philip. "Go-Slow Policies Urged by Leaders in Economic Talks; Closing Statement Calls for Sustained Growth Coupled With Curbs on Inflation; Ford's Aims Realized; 7 Heads of Government Also Agree to Consider a New Body to Assist Italy Co-Slow Economic Policies Urged by 7 Leaders," New York Times. June 29, 1976; Chronology, June 1976.
  19. Web site: Halifax G7 Summit 1995. Chebucto.ns.ca. 2000-05-28. 2010-06-27.
  20. Kirton, John. "A Summit of Substantial Success: The Performance of the 2008 G8"; page 88 and 89 G8 Information Centre — University of Toronto July 17, 2008.
  21. Web site: Denver Summit of the Eight. State.gov. 2010-02-08.
  22. Web site: Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Web.archive.org. 1998-12-12. 2011-05-21. http://web.archive.org/web/19981212012854/http://birmingham.g8summit.gov.uk/. 1998-12-12.
  23. Web site: 1999 G8 summit documents. Web.archive.org. 2005-02-26. 2010-06-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20050226154039/http://www.sipri.org/contents/expcon/1999summit.html. 2005-02-26.
  24. Web site: Kyushu-Okinawa Summit. MOFA. 2010-02-08.
  25. Web site: Vertice di Genova 2001. http://web.archive.org/web/20010806171931/http://www.g8italia.it/index.html. 2001-08-06. Web.archive.org. 2001-08-06. 2010-02-08.
  26. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7506609.stm Italy officials convicted over G8
  27. Web site: UT G8 Info. Centre. Kananaskis Summit 2002. Summit Contents. G8.utoronto.ca. 2010-02-08.
  28. Web site: Sea Island Summit 2004. Georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. 2010-02-08.
  29. News: Special Reports | G8_Gleneagles. BBC News. 2008-09-17. 2010-02-08.
  30. David Miller "Spinning the G8", Zednet, May 13th 2005.
  31. Web site: Hokkaido Toyako Summit – TOP. Mofa.go.jp. 2010-02-08.
  32. Web site: G8 Summit 2009 – official website – Other Countries. G8italia2009.it. 2010-02-08.
  33. Web site: G8 Summit 2009 – official website – International Organizations. G8italia2009.it. 2010-02-08.
  34. Web site: Canada's G8 Plans. PDF. 2010-06-27.
  35. Web site: Prime Minister of Canada: Prime Minister announces Canada to host 2010 G8 Summit in Huntsville. Pm.gc.ca. 2010-02-08.
  36. Web site: 2010 Muskoka Summit. Canadainternational.gc.ca. 2011-05-21.
  37. http://www.g8.utoronto.ca/summit/2010muskoka/delegations.html Participants at the 2010 Muskoka Summit
  38. http://www.lepoint.fr/societe/le-prochain-g20-aura-lieu-a-cannes-12-11-2010-1261419_23.php "Le prochain G20 aura lieu à Cannes,"
  39. http://www.g20-g8.com/g8-g20/g8/english/the-2011-summit/host-city/the-city-of-deauville/the-city-of-deauville.739.html The City of Deauville
  40. Web site: Home – French Presidency of the G-8. G20-g8.com. 2011-05-21.
  41. Web site: Prospects for the 2011 G8 Deauville Summit. G8 Information Centre. John. Kirton. May 26, 2011. 2011-05-27.
  42. http://www.g8.utoronto.ca/whatsnew/2012location-change.html
  43. News: White House Moves G8 Summit From Chicago To Camp David. CBS Chicago. March 5, 2012. 2012-03-05.
  44. News: Patrick Wintour. David Cameron plans to downgrade G8 summit | World news. The Guardian. 2011-05-21. London. June 28, 2010.
  45. Web site: Moscow likely to host G8 summit in 2014 – Dvorkovich. Interfax Europe Ltd.. 2012-02-17.
  46. Web site: [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2078rank.html exports]. cia factbook.
  47. Web site: Sovereign Wealth Fund Rankings. SWF Institute. 2012-02-16.
  48. News: Status of Nuclear Forces. Federation of American Scientists. March 26, 2012. 2012-03-26.
  49. News: Which countries have nuclear weapons?. BBC News. March 26, 2012. 2012-03-26.
  50. http://www.globalissues.org/article/720/g8-summits-empty-promises-each-year (G8)
  51. http://exploredia.com/10-most-powerful-countries-in-the-world/ Most Powerful Nations
  52. http://www.nuso.org/upload/fes_pub/Navarrete.pdf G8 Powers
  53. News: Germany: Nuclear power plants to close by 2022. BBC. May 30, 2011. 2011-08-12.
  54. Web site: United Nations Development Programme. Undp.org. 2010-02-08.
  55. Web site: World Wide Military Expenditures. 2007-12-10. GlobalSecurity.org.
  56. Web site: The G8 and the Nuclear Industry. 2007-11-28. 2002. June. The Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout.
  57. Web site: Federation of American Scientists: Status of World Nuclear Forces. Fas.org. 2010-01-12.
  58. News: Lee. Don. On eve of summit, G-8's relevance is unclear. Los Angeles Times. July 6, 2008.
  59. News: China marches towards world's No. 2 economy. CNN. August 16, 2010.