G8

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Group of Eight
Map of G8 member nations and the European Union
 Canada
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
 France
President François Hollande
 Germany
Chancellor Angela Merkel
 Italy
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
 Japan
Prime Minister Shinzō Abe
 Russia
President Vladimir Putin
(Temporarily suspended)
 United Kingdom
Prime Minister David Cameron
 United States
President Barack Obama

Also represented

 European Union
Council President Herman Van Rompuy
Commission President José Manuel Barroso

The Group of Eight (G8) was the name of a forum for the governments of a group of eight leading industrialised countries, that was originally formed by six leading industrialised countries and subsequently extended with two additional members.[1] Russia, which was invited to join as the last member, was excluded from the forum by the other members on March 24, 2014 as a result of its involvement in the 2014 Crimea crisis in Ukraine.[2] Thus the group now comprises seven nations and will continue to meet as the G7 group of nations.

The forum originated with a 1975 summit hosted by France that brought together representatives of six governments: France, West 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. The G7 is composed of the seven wealthiest developed countries on Earth (by national net wealth or by GDP[3]), and it remained active even during the period of the G8. Russia was added to the group from 1998 to 2014, which then became known as the G8. The European Union is represented within the G8 but cannot host or chair summits.[4]

"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, in 2012 the G8 nations comprised 50.1% of 2012 global nominal GDP and 40.9% of global GDP (PPP). Each calendar year the responsibility of hosting the G8 is rotated 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. 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 (7th country in the world by nominal GDP [3]), People's Republic of China (2nd country in the world by GDP [3]), India (10th country in the world by GDP [5]), Mexico, and South Africa. These countries have participated as guests in 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 would replace the G8 as the main economic council of wealthy nations.[6][7]

On March 24, 2014, the original G7 nations voted to effectively suspend Russia from the organization in response to the country's annexation of Crimea;[8][9][10] however, it was made clear that the suspension was temporary.[11]

History[edit]

At the 34th G8 Summit at Toyako, Hokkaido, formal photo during Tanabata matsuri event for world leaders – Silvio Berlusconi (Italy), Dmitry Medvedev (Russia), Angela Merkel (Germany), Gordon Brown (UK), Yasuo Fukuda (Japan), George W. Bush (US), Stephen Harper (Canada), Nicolas Sarkozy (France), José Manuel Barroso (EU) – July 7, 2008.

The concept of a forum for the world's major industrialized countries emerged prior the 1973 oil crisis. On Sunday, March 25, 1973, Secretary of the Treasury George Shultz convened an informal gathering of Finance Ministers from West Germany (Helmut Schmidt), France (Valéry Giscard d'Estaing), and Britain (Anthony Barber) before an upcoming meeting in Washington DC. When running the idea past President Nixon, he noted that he would be out of town, and offered use of the White House; the meeting was subsequently held in the library on the ground floor.[12] Taking their name from the setting, this original group of four became known as the "Library Group".[13] In mid-1973, at the World Bank-IMF meetings, Shultz proposed the addition of Japan to the original four nations, who agreed.[14] The informal gathering of senior financial officials from the United States, the United Kingdom, West Germany, Japan, and France became known as the "Group of Five."[15]

The year that followed was one of the most turbulent of the post World War II era, The heads of state or government of the top ten industrial nations fell due to illness or scandal. There were two elections in the UK, two Chancellors of West Germany, three presidents of France, three Prime Ministers of Japan and Italy, two US Presidents and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada was forced into an early election. Of the members of the "Group of Five" all were new to the job with the exception of Prime Minister Trudeau.

As 1975 dawned, Schmidt and Giscard were now heads of government in their respective countries, and since they both spoke fluent English, it occurred to them that they, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and US President Gerald Ford could get together in an informal retreat and discuss election results and the issues of the day. So, in the late spring, President Giscard 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 annual meeting of the six leaders was organized under a rotating presidency, forming the Group of Six (G6). The following year, with Wilson out as Prime Minister of Britain, Schmidt and Ford felt an English speaker with more experience was needed, so Canada's Pierre Trudeau was invited to join the group [16] 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 first invited by the United Kingdom in 1977[17] 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,[18] President Boris Yeltsin was invited first as a guest observer, later as a full participant. It was seen as a way to encourage Yeltsin with his capitalist reforms. Russia formally joined the group in 1998, resulting in the Group of Eight, or G8.

Food[edit]

A major focus of the G8 since 2009 has been the global supply of food.[19] At the 2009 L'Aquila summit, the G8's members promised to contribute $20 billion to the issue over three years.[20] Since then, only 22% of the promised funds have been delivered.[21]

At the 2012 summit, President Barack Obama plans to ask G8 leaders to adopt a policy that would privatize global food investment.[22][23]

Crimean crisis and Russian suspension[edit]

On March 2, 2014, the remaining non-Russian G8 members, the European Union, and the European Commission suspended the planned G8 summit in the Russian city of Sochi and would instead meet as the G7 in Brussels,[24] blaming Russia's role in the Crimean crisis.[25] Following the suspension of the summit, on March 18 the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius claimed that Russia was suspended from the G8; however, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal[26] clarified that Russia would remain a G8 member, and only the meeting would be suspended.

While visiting Kiev, Ukraine on March 22, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that he supports expelling Russia from the G8 and expects to discuss the potential expulsion with other G7 leaders at an upcoming meeting in The Hague.[27] On March 24, G8 leaders met formally in The Hague, without Russia being present, and voted to officially suspend Russia's membership in the G8. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated earlier that day that the G8 was an informal organization and membership was optional for Russia.[8]

Structure and activities[edit]

Leaders of the G8 on 7 June 2007, in Heiligendamm, Germany

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 member countries, with each new term beginning on 1 January of the year. The rotation order is: France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada.[28] 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.[29]

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.[30]

In June 2005, justice ministers and interior ministers from the G8 countries agreed to launch an international database on pedophiles.[31] The G8 officials also agreed to pool data on terrorism, subject to restrictions by privacy and security laws in individual countries.[32]

Global energy[edit]

G8 leaders confer during the 2009 summit in L'Aquila (Abruzzo, Italy).

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.[33]

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. The UNFCCC is not on track to meeting any of its stated goals.[34]

Annual summit[edit]

The annual G8 leaders summit is attended by the heads of government.[35] 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.[36]

Date Host country Host leader Location held Website Notes
1st November 15–17, 1975  France Valéry Giscard d'Estaing Rambouillet (Castle of Rambouillet) G6 Summit
2nd June 27–28, 1976  United States Gerald R. Ford Dorado, Puerto Rico[37] Also called "Rambouillet II;" Canada joins the group, forming the G7[37]
3rd May 7–8, 1977  United Kingdom James Callaghan London President of the European Commission is invited to join the annual G-7 summits
4th July 16–17, 1978  West Germany Helmut Schmidt Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia
5th June 28–29, 1979  Japan Masayoshi Ōhira Tokyo
6th June 22–23, 1980  Italy Francesco Cossiga Venice acting Prime Minister Masayoshi Ito of Japan did not attend.
7th July 20–21, 1981  Canada Pierre E. Trudeau Montebello, Quebec
8th June 4–6, 1982  France François Mitterrand Versailles
9th May 28–30, 1983  United States Ronald Reagan Williamsburg, Virginia
10th June 7–9, 1984  United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher London
11th May 2–4, 1985  West Germany Helmut Kohl Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia
12th May 4–6, 1986  Japan Yasuhiro Nakasone Tokyo
13th June 8–10, 1987  Italy Amintore Fanfani Venice
14th June 19–21, 1988  Canada Brian Mulroney Toronto
15th July 14–16, 1989  France François Mitterrand Paris
16th July 9–11, 1990  United States George H. W. Bush Houston
17th July 15–17, 1991  United Kingdom John Major London
18th July 6–8, 1992  Germany Helmut Kohl Munich, Bavaria
19th July 7–9, 1993  Japan Kiichi Miyazawa Tokyo
20th July 8–10, 1994  Italy Silvio Berlusconi Naples
21st June 15–17, 1995  Canada Jean Chrétien Halifax, Nova Scotia [38]
22nd June 27–29, 1996  France Jacques Chirac Lyon International organizations' debut to G8 Summits periodically. The invited ones here were: United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.[39]
23rd June 20–22, 1997  United States Bill Clinton Denver [40] Russia joins the group, forming G8
24th May 15–17, 1998  United Kingdom Tony Blair Birmingham [41]
25th June 18–20, 1999  Germany Gerhard Schröder Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia [42] First Summit of the G-20 major economies at Berlin
26th July 21–23, 2000  Japan Yoshiro Mori Nago, Okinawa [43] Formation of the G8+5 starts, when South Africa was invited. Until the 38th G8 summit in 2012, 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.[39]
27th July 20–22, 2001  Italy Silvio Berlusconi Genoa [44] Leaders from Bangladesh, Mali and El Salvador accepted their invitations here.[39] 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.[45] Following those events and the September 11 attacks two months later in 2001, the G8 have met at more remote locations.
28th June 26–27, 2002  Canada Jean Chrétien Kananaskis, Alberta [46] Russia gains permission to officially host a G8 Summit.
29th June 2–3, 2003  France Jacques Chirac Évian-les-Bains [1] 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, until the 2012 edition. Other first-time nations that were invited by the French president included: Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Switzerland.[39]
30th June 8–10, 2004  United States George W. Bush Sea Island, Georgia [47] 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.[39] Also, the state funeral of former president Ronald Reagan took place in Washington during the summit.
31st July 6–8, 2005  United Kingdom Tony Blair Gleneagles [48] 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.[39] 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.[49]
32nd July 15–17, 2006  Russia Vladimir Putin Strelna, St. Petersburg [2] First G8 Summit on Russian soil. Also, the International Atomic Energy Agency and UNESCO made their debut here.[39]
33rd June 6–8, 2007  Germany Angela Merkel Heiligendamm, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern [3] 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.[39]
34th July 7–9, 2008  Japan Yasuo Fukuda Toyako (Lake Toya), Hokkaido [50] Nations that accepted their G8 Summit invitations for the first time are: Australia, Indonesia and South Korea.[39]
35th July 8–10, 2009  Italy Silvio Berlusconi L'Aquila, Abruzzo [4] This 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.[51] 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.[52]
36th June 25–26, 2010[53]  Canada Stephen Harper Huntsville, Ontario[54] [55] Malawi, Colombia, Haiti, and Jamaica accepted their invitations for the first time.[56]
37th May 26–27, 2011  France Nicolas Sarkozy Deauville,[57][58] Basse-Normandie [5] 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.[59]
38th May 18–19, 2012  United States Barack Obama Camp David[60] [6] 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.[61] Also, this is the second G8 summit, in which one of the core leaders (Vladimir Putin) declined to participate. This G8 summit concentrated on the core leaders only; no non-G8 leaders or international organizations were invited.
39th June 17–18, 2013  United Kingdom David Cameron Lough Erne, County Fermanagh[62] [7] As in 2012, only the core members of the G8 attended this meeting. The four main topics that were discussed here were trade, government transparency, tackling tax evasion, and the ongoing Syrian crisis.[63]
40th June 4–5, 2014  Belgium Brussels G8 summit suspended in association with Crimean crisis.[64] G8 summit will not take place in Sochi as Russia excluded from G8. G7 summit relocated to Brussels, Belgium.[65]
41st 2015  Germany Angela Merkel Schloss Elmau[66]
The G8 leaders at the 36th summit in Huntsville, Ontario. Left to right: Cameron, Van Rompuy (EU), Harper, Medvedev, Kan, Berlusconi, Obama, Barroso (EC), Merkel, Sarkozy.

Member facts[edit]

These G8 countries represent:

With G8+5 and the G20[edit]

  • all G8 countries became members of the unofficial trillion dollar club (countries with a nominal GDP in excess of US$1 trillion) by 2005. Today, 14 (out of the total of 15 so far) countries in the world are members of both the unofficial club and the G-20 major economies group.
  • all of the G8, 15 (out of 19) of the G-20, and 12 (out of 13) G8+5-countries (minus South Africa) are among the 20 top-ranked nations by the amount of voting power and special drawing rights (SDRs) in the International Monetary Fund.
  • All members of the G8, excluding Russia, and three G-20 nations not members of the G8, Australia, South Korea, and Argentina, have a HDI index of 0.8 or higher for 2013.

Cumulative influence of member nations[edit]

Together the eight countries making up the G8 represent about 14% of the world population, but they represent about 60% of the World wealth and 60% of the gross world product[77] 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[78]), and almost all of the world's active nuclear weapons.[79] 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.[80] (see List of states with nuclear weapons)

Criticism[edit]

20 July 2001, 27th G8 summit in Genoa, Italy: Protesters burn a police vehicle which was abandoned by police during a clash with protesters.

Some criticism centres on the assertion that members of G8 do not do enough to help global problems such as Third World Debt, global warming and the AIDS epidemic—due to strict medicine patent policy and other issues related to globalization. In Unravelling Global Apartheid, the political analyst Titus Alexander described the G7, as it then was, as the 'cabinet' of global minority rule, with a coordinating role in world affairs.[81]

The conservative Heritage Foundation has criticized the G8 for advocating food security without making room for economic freedom.[82]

Relevance[edit]

The G8's relevance is unclear.[83] Critics argue that the G8 has now become unrepresentative of the world's most powerful economies. In particular, China has surpassed every economy but the United States,[84] while Brazil has surpassed Canada and Italy (according to the IMF). Also according to the International Monetary Fund and the CIA World Factbook, India has already surpassed Canada, Italy, Germany, France, and Japan in terms of purchasing power parity, although remaining on the 10th position when it comes to Real GDP. This has given rise to the idea of enlarging G8 to the G8+5, which includes these other economically powerful nations. Other critics assert, however, that the concept of a country's net wealth is different from the nation's GDP.

With Vladimir Putin not attending the 2012 G8 summit at Camp David, there is an argument[by whom?] that the summit has generally outlived its usefulness as a viable international gathering of foreign leaders.[85] As a result of that decision, one Foreign Policy magazine contributor stated that Russia should be deleted from the G8 altogether.[86][87] However, another FP contributor commented that the G8 is still relevant, despite the increasing international power and prestige of the G-20 major economies leaders' summit.[88]

Uk Prime Minister David Cameron said:[89]

“Some people ask, does the G8 still matter, when we have a Group of 20? My answer is, yes. The G8 is a group of like-minded countries that share a belief in free enterprise as the best route to growth. As eight countries making up about half the world’s gross domestic product, the standards we set, the commitments we make, and the steps we take can help solve vital global issues, fire up economies and drive prosperity all over the world.”

Current leaders[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]