The Group of Eight [G8] was created in 1975 by informal summit meetings of the leaders of the major industrialized countries. Previously, and now, it is known as the Group of Seven (G7).
France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, Canada, and Russia were the members of the erstwhile G8.
They met annually to foster global consensus on issues like economic growth and crisis management, security, energy crisis, and terrorism.
Members of Group of Eight G8
- In 1975, French President Francois Mitterrand invited the leaders of West Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Italy to Rambouillet (France) for deliberating on the global oil crisis.
- Canada joined it in 1976.
- The United States hosted the inaugural G-7 summit in Puerto Rico.
- In 1997, Russia entered the political forum. G7 became G8.
- From 1981, the European Union takes part in the G-7 meetings as an anon-enumerated member.
- Following the invasion of Crimea in March 2014, the group barred Russia from attending the summits permanently.
- In 2017, Russia declared its permanent withdrawal from the G8, and G8 became G7 again.
Group of Eight [G8] - Structure, Agendas and Summits
Despite the absence of a written charter, a basic organizational framework, and a permanent secretariat, G7 (erstwhile G8) leaders meet informally to discuss pressing economic issues.
The following were the major problems addressed by the former G8:
- Oil shock and stagflation- 1970s
- Global environmental concerns- the 1980s
- Economic transformation in previously communist nations and debt and financial instability-1990s
- African problems- early 2000s
Historically, the issues of human rights, terrorism, regional security and balance of power, narcotics trade, and arms control have dominated G8 discussions.
Other agendas include:
- G8 funded various projects for sustainable agricultural development and adequate emergency food assistance since 2009.
- The G8 accepted the EU's proposal for a global energy efficiency program during the Heiligendamm Summit in 2007.
- The G8 announced the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation with China, India, South Korea, and the European Community in 2008.
Each year, a member of the Group of Eight assumes the charge of the President, with each new term beginning on January 1.
The order of rotation is:
- the United States
- the United Kingdom
- Russia (till 2014)
Criticism and Present-Day Relevance of the Group of Eight G8
- In his magnum opusUnraveling Global Apartheid, Titus Alexander hammered the erstwhile G8 as the cabinet of global minority rule.
- G8 fails to reflect the views of key emerging economies such as India, Brazil, China, South Korea, and Mexico, some of which have already surpassed G8 countries in terms of GDP.
- The G8does do not have any basis of existence, claimed Brazilian President Lula da Silva in 2009.
- According to Ishaan Tharoor, Senior Editor of TIME magazine and Editor of TIME World, the G8 and the UN Security Council have an archaic, eurocentric perspective of global power dynamics.
Some believe that G7’s (erstwhile G8) small and homogeneous membership fosters collaborative decision-making, while others argue that it frequently lacks follow-through and excludes significant developing countries.
Nevertheless, the G7 remains relevant because all of its members are concerned about the same issues, such as the populist backlash against the uneven impacts of globalization.
“It is a doable steering group of the West, says Stewart M Patrick, the Director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program at the Council on Foreign Relations.
FAQs on Group of Eight [G8]
Q.1) What are the responsibilities of the President of the Group of Eight [G8]?
The President country is responsible for planning and hosting a series of ministerial-level meetings, leading up to a mid-year summit attended by all heads of government. Also, it sets the agenda of the meeting.
Q.2) How much is the total GDP Group of Eight G8?
As of now, the total GDP of Group of Eight [G8] is around $4,24,57,921, or 42.45 trillion USD, which is 45.22% of the world GDP.
Q.3) Are the declarations made by the leaders of the member country binding on Group of Eight [G8]?
The Group of Eight [G8] is an informal group that makes no enforceable decisions. Therefore, such declarations are not binding.
Q.4) When was the latest Group of Eight G8 summits held?
The UK hosted the 47th Group of Eight [G8] summit in Cornwall on June 2021.