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G7/G8, G20

The G7/G8 and the G20 play an important role in global economic and financial governance in key areas where the Community's competence is long-standing and where EU strategic interests are at stake. It is therefore important to ensure an appropriate representation of the EU both in the G7/G8 and the G20.


At its beginnings, the G7 was an informal gathering of heads of state and governments of the world's most advanced economies (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States). It started at Rambouillet in 1975 at the initiative of French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. The European Commission has regularly taken part in all sessions since the Ottawa Summit of 1981.

In the early stages, members of the G7 were accompanied at meetings by their foreign and finance ministers. In 1998, the British Presidency decided to separate the ministerial meetings from the original summit in order to keep the original concept of a small, informal gathering. In the same year, Russia joined what then became the G8. Since 2005, the G8 has been holding dialogues with the major emerging economies of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

Alongside the summits there are regular meetings of the G8 foreign ministers to discuss foreign policy issues. Other ministers (e.g. labour, environment, development, etc.) also meet, in general once a year, in the G8 framework.

G8 finance ministers meet once a year before the actual summit (both the Commission and Russia attend this gathering). However, finance ministers also meet in general three more times (early in the year, and at the margin of the spring and annual meetings of the international financial institutions), in a G7 (instead of a G8) framework. The European Commission,  the European Central Bank (ECB) and the President of the Eurogroup now participate at the entirety of the G7 meetings

The EU and the G7/G8

The G7/8 deals with such issues as: global economic outlook and macroeconomic management, international trade, energy, climate change, and relations with developing countries. Recently, the summit agenda has broadened considerably to include a host of political-security issues ranging from human rights through regional security to arms control. In many of these areas, the Community has a competence, either exclusive or shared with its Member States. That is why the Commission now participates fully in the G7 finance ministers’ meeting. The weight of the Union in the global economy, the introduction of the euro, and the protection of the strategic external interests of the EU require the full participation of the Union, including the Commission, in the entire G7 process.


The G20 is an informal forum that promotes open and constructive discussion between industrial and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability. It was created as a response both to the financial crises of the late 1990s and a growing recognition that key emerging-market countries were not adequately represented at the core of global economic discussion and governance.

At ministerial level, the members of the G20 are the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The European Union is also a member, represented by the European Commission and the European Central Bank.

To tackle the financial and economic crisis that spread across the globe in 2008, the G20 members were called upon to further strengthen international cooperation. Accordingly, G20 Summits at Leaders’ level have been held since then, where the EU is represented by the European Council President and the European Commission President.

The EU and the G20

The G20 exerts significant and growing influence in areas where the Community’s competence exists and where strategic interests of the EU are at stake, such as multilateral trade issues, regional integration, financing for development, combating the financing of terrorism or exchange-rate issues. At present, the European Commission participates in the G20 summits, the ministerial meetings, the meetings at deputies' level and in the G20 working groups The full participation of the Commission to the G20 is warranted because it is entrusted with the representation of EU members in some key policies and prepares and enforces legislation or steers Member States' co-operation in areas of interest to the G20.

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