G7: Difficult Discussions of Global Issues
Agreement on the fight against terrorism, progress on free trade, but no agreement on climate change mitigation – that is a brief round-up of the G7 summit in Sicily. On some points there was a high level of agreement, while on others we must note dissent, reported Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The G7 discussed development issues and climate change mitigation with some African states.
(© Bundesregierung/Bergmann )
"We must accept the challenges of globalization and use globalization to benefit the people." At the end of meeting of the seven leading industrial nations in the Italian town on Taormina, Chancellor Angela Merkel reminded her audience of this guiding philosophy of the G7.
On some points, the G7 were able to translate this philosophy into action. There was "a high level of agreement and a common approach" in the discussions on international conflicts including Syria, Libya and North Korea, stressed the Chancellor.
The Leaders’ Communiqué also contains a joint commitment to the Minsk agreements and sanctions on Russia.
Fighting terrorism together
The G7 summit participants agreed to take an even more resolute line to fight terrorism and violent extremism. On Friday they adopted a joint statement to this end.
The G7 nations intend to stem the abuse of the Internet for the purposes of Islamist and terrorist propaganda, and to take joint action to cut off the funding of international terrorism. The G7 interior ministers are to meet as soon as possible to put into practice the points agreed.
Against protectionism and for open markets
Summit participants agreed to support the multilateral trade system of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Following the heated debate about trade, the Chancellor was happy with the final Leaders’ Communiqué. "We want to ensure that the World Trade Organization is successful, precisely by bringing the Eleventh Ministerial Conference to a successful conclusion."
Together the G7 states intend to keep markets open and take action against protectionism, while ensuring that firm action is taken against unfair trading practices. "That is also in Germany’s interests, if I think about steel," said the Chancellor.
Free trade was also on the agenda of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s bilateral meeting with American President Donald Trump.
No progress on climate action
By contrast, the seven heads of state and government were not able to reach any agreement on climate change mitigation. Canada, Japan, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and Germany reaffirmed their commitment to the targets laid out in the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The USA, however, declined to state whether it would remain part of the Paris Agreement or not. The entire climate-related debate was extremely unsatisfactory, reported the Chancellor. "I believe that the Paris Agreement is so important that no compromises can be made."
Preparing for the G20 summit in Hamburg
The G7 summit is a "very, very good basis" for Germany’s preparations for the G20 summit in Hamburg, Chancellor Merkel said. "More work is needed on some issues, or we will just have to accept dissent."
Like the G20, the Group of Seven (G7) is not an international organization, but an informal forum of heads of state and government. The G7 nations are Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Canada and the USA. The EU is also represented at all meetings.
With a view to the G20 summit, the G7 meeting with outreach partners was also important. This year representatives of Tunisia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Niger, Kenya and Guinea were invited, along with the heads of several international organizations including the African Development Bank, the OECD, the IMF and the World Bank.
Last year’s G7 summit was held on Japan’s Kashikojima island. Since then four new leaders have taken office: the Italian host, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump.
It was thus hoped that the summit in Italy would provide a forum for an open discussion and better mutual understanding.
The Group of Seven (G7) together represent about ten percent of the world’s population and around one third of global economic output. The G7 is an informal body, and as such its resolutions are not legally binding, but the outcomes of the summit are politically important - and should ideally have an impact beyond the borders of the member states.