What Is the G8 Summit?:
The G8 Summit is the annual meeting of the Group of 8 leaders. It's hosted by the G8 President for that year. The Summit doesn't have any legal or political authority. However, when these eight world leaders agree on something, it has the power to shift the direction of global economic growth. The first meeting was held at Rambouillet, France, in 1975.
G8 Member Countries and Other Attendees:
The G8 member countries are: the U.S., Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Italy, Canada and Russia. The first six countries were the original members of the G6. Canada joined in 1976, and Russia in 1997.
Other important global leaders are invited, including representatives of: the European Union, China, India, Mexico, and Brazil. The leaders of important international organizations are also invited, including the IMF, World Bank and United Nations.
How the G8 Lost Power
In 2008, a subtle shift of power occurred. While the G8 talked about food inflation, and all kinds of other admittedly important world issues, they completely missed the 2008 global financial crisis! As a result, it signaled the end of the old world order and the beginning of a new one
The meeting was held in July, while Fannie and Freddiewere going bankrupt, and after bank-lending LIBOR rates went haywire, and the Fed held its first emergency meeting in 30 years to rescue investment bank Bear Stearns. In other words, there were plenty of clues that these world leaders needed to do something fast!
Instead, the G-20 stepped in at their summit and addressed the root of the problem. They requested the U.S. to regulate its financial markets more. The U.S. refused, allowing unregulatedcredit default swaps and other derivatives to plunge the world into financial crisis and recession.
After that it became apparent that the G20's emerging market countries, which had largely escaped the crisis, were necessary partners of any global initiative. And the G20 Summit superseded the G8 as the world's most important meeting of all global leaders.
G8 Summit 2013:
The 2013 Summit was held on November 17-18 at Lough Erne, Enneskillen in Northern Ireland. It was hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron. The leaders agreed to:
- Hold a conference to reach a political solution to the Syrian conflict. (The G8 tried to overcome Russia's resistance to intervene in Syria, its ally.)
- Work together to find tax evaders.
- Support the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Negotiations begin following the Summit. Support the EU/Japan and the EU/Canada trade agreements.
- Stamp out ransom payments to terrorists. Nearly $70 million has been paid to free hostages during the past three years, at an average $2.5 million per captive. (Source: UK Prime Minister's Office, G8 Leaders' Remarks, June 18, 2013; Belfast Telegraph, Cameron's Plea to Stop Paying Ransom, June 17, 2013)
Sadly, the summit means very little to you! I say sadly, because here's an opportunity for the leaders of the world's developed countries to actually accomplish something and solve serious global problems. How about global warming, for starters. Instead, they promoted a trade agreement and little else.
G8 Summit 2012:
President Obama hosted the 2012 Summit on May 18-19, 2012, at Camp David in Frederick, MD. The focus was on the global threat of the EU crisis, and G8 leaders agreed that Greece be kept in the Eurozone. As a result, the EU shifted from austerity measures to promoting growth. The leaders agreed on a host of wide-ranging issues, including:
- Insuring the safety of the world's energy supply, support alternative sources, and reduce climate pollutants (methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons).
- Improve food security in Africa with the New Alliance, which will lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade.
- Contribute $16 billion annually through 2017 to address Afghanistan’s debt.
- Support Arab countries in transition with the Deauville Partnership. (Source: U.S. State Department, Final Update on the U.S. G-8 Presidency, December 31, 2012)
G8 Summit 2011:
The 2011 Summit was hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at Deauville, France on May 26-27. They responded to the Arab Spring uprisings by creating the Deauville Partnership to promote political and economic reform for these countries. They created the first-ever declaration on human rights, democracy and sustainable development for Africa. In response to Japan's nuclear disaster, the leaders agreed to stress test their nuclear plants and review international safety standards. (Source: European Commission, G8 France 20122)
G8 Summit 2010:
On June 25-26, 2010, the G8 Summit was held at Huntsville, Ontario, and was hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. At that meeting, the G8 committed an additional $5 billion to the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. They focused on responding to the threats from nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea, and on encouraging stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Source: Prime Minister of Canada, Statement on the Closing of the 2010 G8 Summit, June 26, 2010)
G8 Summit 2009:
Controversial Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi hosted the July 8-10 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy. The primary focus of the conference was an agreement to continue the ongoing efforts to contain the global financial crisis. This conference included many members of the G20, who had not seen the same level of economic destruction. However, members also agreed to a host of wide-ranging topics. These included: efforts to reduce climate change, recommit to supporting African countries, spend $20 billion over the next three years to boost farming in rural areas, condemned Iran's nuclear program, supported a reduction of nuclear arms in the U.S. and Russia, and supported the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. (Source: Chair's Summary L’Aquila, 10 July 2009)
G8 Summit 2008:
This critical conference was held in Tokyo, Japan from July 7-9 2008. Hosted by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, the leaders still promoted optimistic views about the global economy while it crumbled around them. In fact, they were more concerned about inflation, a result of record-high oil, gas and food prices. They also held hopes that the WTO Doha Round of negotiations would be successful. The leaders stated a goal of 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050, to reverse global warming. Like the other summits, leaders supported reduction of poverty in Africa, and expressed concern over hot spots like North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, and Israel, as well as Sudan, Myanmar and Zimbabwe. For more detail, see Summary of the Hokkaido Tokayo Summit.
G8 Summit 2007:
Unfortunately, the G-8 missed a critical opportunity to avert the 2008 global economic recession. They refused to agree to a code of conduct for hedge funds, which are located primarily in the U.S. and the UK. They recognized it was needed, but didn't have the political will to follow-through.
Instead, Chancellor Merkel agreed to meet with these hedge funds to convince them of the wisdom in establishing a self-regulating code of conduct. As we now know, her efforts were not enough to reduce the global risks that unregulated hedge funds created.
In 2007, German Chancellor and then-EU President Angela Merkel was Chair of the G8 Summit. She brokered a historic climate change agreement that included getting the U.S. to agree that its climate change policy be under the auspices of the UN. Until then, the U.S. resisted subjugating its actions to UN policy. Merkel got the U.S. to agree to “seriously consider” cutting greenhouse gas emission in half by 2050. Chancellor Merkel’s leadership on this issue seemed to indicate that the EU was becoming more of a global leader than the U.S. This would have represented a significant change from the post-WWII Marshall plan era.
The G8 Summit Is Now Less Important Than the G20 Summit:
Many feel that the G-8 does not accurately represent the true leaders in global economic power. In 2008, then EU President and French President Nicholos Sarkozy met with EU Commissioner Manuel Barroso and called for the inclusion of China, India and Brazil in G-8 membership. So far, this request has been ignored. For this reason, the G20 has become a more important international body than the G8. Article update June 20, 2013