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International institutions and fora

The European Commission represents the European Union in a number of international organisations and fora in order to support EMU and EU policy priorities. The euro’s increasingly important role in the world means that the euro area needs a stronger and more effective international representation.

The European Commission participates in a number of international organisations and fora, such as:

  • the G7/8, G20;
  • the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank; and
  • the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

G7/G8

The G7 meetings gather Finance Ministers and central bank Governors of the countries of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States to discuss global economic issues. The G8 is an annual meeting of the political leaders of the countries of the G7 plus Russia. The G8 meetings were originally envisaged as a forum to discuss world economic issues, but the agenda broadened substantially since its inception, shifting from predominantly macroeconomic and trade issues to include a host of security, environment and development issues. The new role of the G20 has brought about changes in the G8 agenda, focusing more on political matters and global issues (e.g. climate change and development). The EU is a full member of the G8 and is represented by the European Council President and the European Commission President.

G20

The G20 is an informal forum that promotes open and constructive discussion between advanced and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability. The G20 was created as a response both to the financial crises of the late 1990s and to the growing recognition that key emerging-market countries were not adequately included at the core of global economic discussions and governance fora. 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 have been held since then at Leaders’ level.   The EU is a full member of the G20. At leaders' level, the EU is represented by the European Council President and the European Commission President. At ministerial level, the EU is represented bythe Commission, and the ECB.

The Bretton Woods institutions

The European Union is represented in the IMF and the World Bank by its Member States. The European Commission participates as an observer in the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee and in the World Bank's Development Committee.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

The founding Convention of the OECD specifically gives the European Commission the right to take part in the work of the Organisation, enjoying all the rights of membership, except the right to vote. The Commissioner in charge of Economic and Monetary Affairs attends the economic part of the OECD ministerial meetings.

DG ECFIN participates actively in certain OECD high level meetings, in particular Policies for the Promotion of Better International Payments Equilibrium, Macro-economic and Structural Policy and the Economic Policy Committee. In addition, DG ECFIN country desks participate in Economic and Development Review meetings on individual countries.

Multilateral Development Banks

The European  Union is not formally represented in most of the regional development banks (the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank and Inter-American Development Bank), although their membership includes some EU countries. It is, however, represented in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) where it is a shareholder.

The external representation of the euro area

In view of the euro’s global reach, the euro area has an increased responsibility with respect to the stability of the global economy. This makes it important for the euro area to present a single view when contributing to international governance. The Commission has long been advocating better coordination to ensure an effective external representation of the euro area in international economic and financial institutions and fora. The Commission, as well as most of its EU and international partners, considers that in the long term, a unified or single representation would be the best way for the euro area to play a role commensurate with its economic weight in the international economic and financial sphere.

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