L’Aquila Bends the G8 Model Out of Shape

July 8, 2009

Berlusconi-sm

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 »

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Keeping up the G20’s Momentum

July 6, 2009

Paola Subacchi
Research Director, International Economics, Chatham House

Unlike the London Summit of the G20 leaders at the beginning of April the G8 summit to be held this week in L’Aquila Italy has so far attracted little attention. Certainly a less dramatic – although still not positive – economic outlook has curbed the sense of urgency that dominated weeks before the G20 meeting. There is also the widespread sentiment that the G8 has been demoted and the G20 is now the forum at which to discuss global issues. This backdrop, together with the fact that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is entangled in personal issues, make many commentators see the L’Aquila Summit as a non-event.

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Colliding Domestic Interests and the G8

July 5, 2009

Ruth Davis
Junior Research Fellow, International Economics, Chatham House

How much does anyone expect from the G8 Summit next week? The G20 London Summit was a relative success largely because there was an overwhelming awareness of the intensity of the financial and economic crisis: it was crucial to send a signal of confidence to the global economy. The Summit was seen as a tool to turn sentiment around and to make a convincing case that IMF support would help vulnerable economies avoid financial, social and political disaster. However, the G8 Summit is not perceived as having the same strategic importance.

There is a danger the appetite for multilateral concessions and deal-making has dried up as leaders concentrate on their own domestic agendas. Angela Merkel, Taro Aso and Gordon Brown all face elections within the coming year, making new commitments difficult and also implying a lack of appetite for discussing the still high risks posed by the economic and financial situation.

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Tests of G8 Variable Geometry

July 1, 2009

Andrew F. Cooper
Associate Director and Distinguished Fellow, CIGI

The Italian hosts of the 2009 G8 summit have placed great weight on implementing the concept of ‘variable geometry’. Instead of a back-to-basics approach in which an inclusive and fixed membership meets, over the three days of the summit, L’Aquila will have an à la carte orientation.

This is not to suggest that the G8 club will not have some time to itself. The first day of the summit will be ‘members’ day in which the established G8 will meet on their own. The focus will be on the world economy in the morning, global issues including climate change in the afternoon and security/political issues in the evening. The discussions in each of these segments will be crowded. Especially so as there will be intense conversations about exit strategies for the financial crisis, the importance of stretching the regulatory regime, building consensus for Copenhagen, and reactions to situations in Iran, North Korea, and Afghanistan to list just the most obvious issues.

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