G7

The G7 is rarely far from the news headlines - especially during the Group's annual summits, often met with protests. The countries of the G7 represent some of the largest economies in the world. While many would argue they are best placed to deal with some of the biggest challenges facing the world today, others think that the G7 functions more like a 'boys' club' of mostly Western states that excludes important global actors such as China, India and Turkey. So let's take a look at this critical but controversial grouping. 

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Table of contents

    Meaning of the G7

    G7 G7 reunion in 2014 StudySmarterFig. 1 – The Group of Seven, G7. 2014.

    The Group of Seven (abbreviated as G7) is an international, intergovernmental organisation designed to coordinate policy responses to the day's most significant economic and political challenges. The leaders of the G7 countries meet at least once a year and general issue a joint statement or a Leaders' Communiqué outlining a shared position or agreed policy goal. Apart from the main leaders' meeting, there are also several "tracks" where lower-level officials meet to discuss shared concerns.

    Due to the lack of formality and recognition as an official global organisation, the Group of 7 does not have any legislative or authoritative power.

    The G7 has no mandate to enforce its decisions on its members or other governments, so it relies on good faith alone to achieve its goals. Nonetheless, the G7's statements are considered highly influential in global politics, and the size of the economies represented at the G7 means that its decisions usually have a noticeable effect on countries outside the grouping.

    The current aims and priorities of the G7 are:

    • To lead the global recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • To strengthen global resilience against any future pandemics.
    • To promote future prosperity by championing free and fair trade internationally.
    • To promote the values of unity, international support and collaboration.
    • To tackle climate change and preserve the planet's biodiversity.

    The G7 Countries

    Map with the G7 Countries G7 StudySmarterFig. 2 – The G7 Countries.

    There are seven countries within the Group of Seven, hence the title. These countries are:

    • The United States

    • The United Kingdom

    • Italy

    • France

    • Germany

    • Canada

    • Japan

    Currently, the G7 countries account for around 60% of the net global wealth, 10% of the world's population and 46% of the worldwide GDP1.

    Members of the G7

    The Group started with six members before eventually growing to include eight. The Russian Federation joined the Group in 1998 but was suspended in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea. Since then, Russia has formally left the grouping.

    The Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, which extends from the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, was one of the major geopolitical events of the 2010s.

    In the aftermath of the Euromaidan protests that led to the ousting of the pro–Russian regime in Kyiv, groups of soldiers in unmarked green uniforms carrying Russian-made military equipment occupied important buildings in Crimea, including the Crimean Parliament and Sevastopol Airport.

    The local government was dismissed, and a new Prime Minister, Sergey Astkyknov, was appointed. A few weeks later, the Crimean Parliament voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation, outlining plans for a referendum on the issue. On March 16th, this referendum was held with 97% voting in favour of joining the Russian Federation.2

    Western powers criticised the highly undemocratic nature of the pre-referendum environment in Crimea, highlighting the censorship and persecution of pro-Ukrainian voices and the presence of armed men at polling stations. Many countries imposed sanctions against Russia, including freezing the assets of Russian oligarchs, and Russia's membership in the G7 was suspended.

    Origins of the G7

    The history of the G7 goes back to the early 1970s, when the leaders of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Japan, and West Germany, met in Paris to discuss the oil crisis and the global economic recession. After this, the French President of the time, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, decided to invite all the leaders of those countries and Italy to Rambouillet.

    Rambouillet is a small French town in the Île-de-France.

    This second meeting took place in 19753, including Italy making up a Group of Six. Subsequent summits also created a format for meetings between the countries' finance ministers in the grouping.

    The G20

    G20 Leaders video conference in 2020 G7 StudySmarterFig. 3 – G20 Leaders video conference in 2020.

    The Group of 20, known as G20, is an expansion of the G7 formed in 1999. It includes 19 countries and the European Union. These countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States, with Spain as a permanent guest.

    The G20 grouping is designed to bring together the world's largest economies (including India and China) and the most populous countries on the planet. Between them, the G20 members represent two-thirds of the world's population.

    G7 leaders

    The leaders of the G7 are the heads of government of the seven member countries. The following table states the current G7 leaders:

    Leader

    Country

    Position

    Boris Johnson

    United Kingdom

    Prime Minister

    Joe Biden

    United States

    President

    Olaf Scholz

    Germany

    Chancellor

    Emmanuel Macron

    France

    President

    Mario Draghi

    Italy

    Prime Minister

    Fumio Kishida

    Japan

    Prime Minister

    Justin Trudeau

    Canada

    Prime Minister

    Table 1 – G7 Leaders.

    As all the G7 countries are advanced democracies, the composition of the G7 leaders often changes as new heads of government are elected. The leader who has served the G7 grouping the longest is Justin Trudeau, who has been in office since 20154.

    The presidency of the G7

    The G7 presidency is a temporary role given to the country's leader to host the next G7 Leaders' Summit. The President acts as the host for around a year. This presidency then rotates among the members annually following the order set down during the Group's initial formation:

    1. France

    2. The United States of America

    3. The United Kingdom

    4. Germany

    5. Japan

    6. Italy

    7. Canada

    The G7 Summit

    The G7 Summit is an annual event where leaders meet to discuss fundamental global challenges and possible ways to tackle them.

    The share of global GDP that the G7 members represent has fallen from 67% in 1970 to 46% in 2019. 5.

    The last meeting of the G7 occurred in Elmau, Germany, between the 26th and 28th of June, 2022. The G7 leaders addressed the following points in a joint declaration6:

    • Condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, emphasising the need for financial and military aid for Ukraine. The G7 members also promised to continue economic sanctions against Russia and support Ukraine as much as possible.

    • Helping to stabilise and transform the global economy whilst also tackling inflation and the rising cost of living.

    • Taking immediate coordinated actions to stop the surge in the price of oil and other commodities caused by "extraordinary market conditions".

    • Creating a Climate Club by the end of 2022, focusing on tackling climate change and furthering the transition to greener energy sources.

    • Mobilising over 600 billion USD through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment to tackle the global investment gap.

    • Promote human rights, address disinformation and achieve gender equality.

    "With these joint commitments and actions taken today, and by working with partners, we will progress towards an equitable world.7

    G7 - Key takeaways

    • The Group of Seven (G7) is an international intergovernmental organisation that provides a forum for meetings and coordinated action to address ongoing global challenges.
    • The current members of the G7 are the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, and Japan. The G7 countries account for around 50% of net global wealth, 10% of the world's population and 46% of global GDP.
    • Russia was formerly a member of the Group (when it was known as the G8) but was suspended when, in 2014, Russia illegally annexed Crimea. When Russia formally left the grouping in 2017, it became known as the G7.
    • The leaders of the G7 are the heads of government of each member country.
    • The G7 Summit is an annual event in which the leaders meet to discuss the current global challenges and possible ways to tackle them. The last meeting occurred in Elmau, Germany, between 26th and 28th June 2022.

    References

    1. G7 Countries 2022
    2. How Russia Rigged Crimean Referendum
    3. The history of the G7
    4. Justin Trudeau | Biography, Facts, & Father | Britannica
    5. G7 Countries 2022
    6. G7 summit, Schloss Elmau - Consilium
    7. G7 summit, Schloss Elmau - Consilium
    8. Fig. 1 – G7 in het Catshuis (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/G7_in_het_Catshuis.jpg) by Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst (https://www.flickr.com/people/51135196@N05) licensed by CC-BY-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)
    9. Fig. 2 – Group of Seven (G7) Countries (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/45/Group_of_Seven_%28G7%29_Countries.svg) by BlankMap-World.svg (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BlankMap-World.svg) licensed by Public Domain (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Group_of_Seven_(G7)_Countries.svg).
    10. Fig. 3 – 20200326tv kaigi01 (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/da/20200326tv_kaigi01.jpg) by 内閣官房内閣広報室 (https://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/98_abe/actions/202003/26tv_kaigi.html) licensed by CC-BY-4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
    11. Table 1 – G7 Leaders.
    Frequently Asked Questions about G7

    What is the G7?

    The Group of Seven (G7) is an international intergovernmental organisation coordinating actions between main Western powers to tackle global economic issues.

    Who are the G7?

    The G7 is an international intergovernmental grouping that brings together the largest economies in the Western world (plus Japan).

    What is the G7 summit?

    The G7 Summit is an annual meeting where G7 leaders discuss actions and solutions to tackle global economic and political challenges.

    Who are the G7 leaders?

    The G7 leaders are the heads of state and government of the G7 country members.

    What does the G7 represent?

    Even though the G7 is an informal group, it represents the interests and coordination efforts of the main Western powers (plus Japan). 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Where did the first Summit of the G6 (forerunner of the G7) take place?

    How often does the G7 presidency rotate among members?

    What percentage of global GDP is represented by the economies of the G7 member states?

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