L’Aquila Bends the G8 Model Out of Shape

July 8, 2009


Andrew F. Cooper
Associate Director and Distinguished Fellow, CIGI

The G8 Summit at L’Aquila is a study in contradictions. The Italian presidency’s approach remains a languid one amidst an intense global recession. Here, style trumps substance. The site of the summit – re-located at the last moment in sympathy with the victims of the devastating earthquake is still a work in progress. The host government from the start lacked any overarching vision for the Summit. The brand trotted out in the last few weeks, that L’Aquila represented a “summit of principles”, crumbled quickly amidst its inconsistency with the scandals associated with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The United States tried to rescue the G8 by taking on some elements of leadership. Key sherpa meeting were called and shaped by American officials. A big delivery has been promised in the form of a major initiative on food security. Yet, these moves can not mask the reality that the US has already moved on from prioritizing L’Aquila to focus its attention on the Pittsburgh G20 on September 24-25. Read the rest of this entry »


Commentary on G8 Agenda and Variable Geometry

July 7, 2009

In the week prior to the G8 L’Aquila summit, contributors to this blog participated in a set of academic conferences that mapped out the challenges the body faces, functionally and structurally. Two new web commentaries on the discussion of these conferences are available on the CIGI website – below are some short abstracts:

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Seven Days to L’Aquila: Is Anybody There?

July 3, 2009

Paola Subacchi
Research Director, International Economics, Chatham House

In Rome for the first of a series of events ahead of the G8 Summit in L’Aquila. In the meeting room the chairs are uncomfortable and it is too hot, but the setting is splendid. The conference title – “Global Financial Crises: National Economic Solutions, Geopolitical Impacts” – does not even hint at the G8. Presentations and discussion revolve around the economic crisis: not many new ideas and a string of rather old-fashioned comments. Only the last session focuses on the forthcoming summit, but no effort is made to contextualise the G8 within the current crisis.

Compared to London there is no sense of urgency nor any belief that the G8 leaders should reinforce the message of confidence – of ‘being in charge’ –the key motif of the London Summit. Is it because the crisis is not on the agenda? Or is it because there is less sense of urgency?

Read the rest of this entry »

Key Questions for the G8 L’Aquila Summit

June 23, 2009


Leaders of the world’s major economies are meeting from 8-10 July 2009 in L’Aquila, Italy, for the annual G8 summit. Reporting live from the G8 Media Centre, this blog will be a ‘watching brief’ on the summit process, tracking the critical discussions that will take place on and around the official agenda.

The L’Aquila summit will be the first meeting of the G8 leaders since the collapse of the global economy. Until now, “the 8”have been engaged in the upgraded G20 summit process. This poses a challenge for this year’s G8 summit – how does G8 differentiate itself from the G20 track? Staple G8 items such as climate change and African development have been announced as priorities for the Italian Summit. One day at the three-day Summit has been allocated for the G8 to discuss critical issues with the major emerging economies, including matters of the global economy. This Summit will also give added emphasis to shared security concerns. However, recent events such as North Korean nuclear-related missle testing and the political demonstrations in Iran are likely to enter the discussions.

Some of the “G5” emerging powers have played important roles in the globally coordinated response to the ongoing global economic crisis, thus emphasizing their growing prominence in world affairs. The underlying tension between the G8 and G20 highlights the significance of the culmination of the three-year “Heiligendamm Dialogue Process” (HP), the structured dialogue between G8 countries and the major emerging economies of the South (China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa). The HP final report will be delivered at L’Aquila.

From now until the conclusion of the summit, this blog will examine the evolving agenda and main discussions at and around the Italian Summit. Our expert analysts will offer commentary live from the G8 Media Centre. This blog will examine key questions on the relevancy of the G8 summit, centering on the following areas:

1. Who is taking the G8 seriously?

Should we care about the G8 Summit? Which issues are the media giving priority coverage at the summit? How have non-state actors approached the G8? Will protests and demonstrations command more public attention than the G8 discussions? If so, why? Will external events (war, terrorism, disasters) draw attention away from the planned agenda?

2. Will the G8 succeed in tackling such an ambitious agenda?

Have shifts in the reality of the global economic order affected the G8’s ability to deliver? Has the current global economic crisis affected the ability of “the 8” to deliver on their development assistance commitments for African countries? What should be expected of the outreach meetings African leaders? Will the G8’s Major Economies Forum compete or complement the Copenhagen climate negotiations?

3. How will the G8 differentiate itself from the G20?

Which countries and leaders are attending? How is the G8 performing in terms of of its efficiency and legitimacy? If the G20 Summit process continues to gain momentum, what impact does the future hold for the G8? Should the G8 be reinvented? What are some of the options for G8 reform?

4. Which countries are demonstrating leadership?

Which countries appear to taking the lead on which issues at this Summit? How large a group of invited guests will be in attendance at L’Aquila? What is the role for these non-members in the substantive discussions? Has the G8 lost its original comparative advantage – its role as an intimate forum for problem solving on critical issues?

5. What will be the outcome of the final report of the Heiligendamm Process?

Have the HP Working Groups made sufficient progress in enhancing dialogue among and between the G8 and G5? What types of recommendatins may appear in the HP Final Report? Will Italy’s proposal of a ‘G14 for a day’ establish a lasting precedent for future Summits? How should Canada respond as it assumes the G8 Presidency in 2010? 

This blog is a joint production of CIGI and Chatham House, within the Study Group on Global Economic Governance, taking stock of developments surrounding the G8 summit and offer insight into the significant shift in global economic power. A set of video commentaries will be produced by our G8 insiders and cross-posted on the website of CBC’s The National, Canada’s premiere daily news program.

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Disclaimer: This blog is solely intended to spur discussion, while the opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI, Chatham House or their respective Boards of Directors.