When the G-7 gatherings originated in the 1970s, the included only finance ministers who typically met with little notice or publicity. They were working meetings. But in the 1980s, they became public events with top government leaders present. As the Council of Foreign Relations has noted, it \”The G-7 serves as a forum for highly industrialized democracies to coordinate economic, security, and energy policy.\”
They propose a G-7+, which would cover a more sustained share of world GDP. Basically, Germany, France, and Italy combine into one spot for the euro-zone countries. Canada drops out. This frees up spots to add Brazil, India, and China, while still holding to seven members.
They write: \”Crucially, the G7+ would provide leadership and fast-paced decision-making on economic and financial issues of global relevance – but should not replace the G20, which remains an important avenue for discussions of all other issues that call for higher representativeness, ranging from terrorism and food security to tax avoidance and climate change.\”
Communication between countries can be valuable, and regular forums can make that communication flow more easily than continually trying to build new forums. So I\’m not exactly opposed to the G-7, or an expanded G-7+, or the G-20. It\’s certainly useful for the G-7 countries to remind themselves and each other that their global economic and political power is diminishing. But it also seems to me that such groups can easily be taken over by pretentiousness and public relations gestures, and that world leaders might in some cases find their time better-spent in working on problems of their domestic economies.
For example, the website of the G-20 proclaims: \”In 2008, amidst the global financial crisis, the world saw a need for new consensus-building at the highest political level. Since then, the G20 summits have been attended by heads of state or government, and the G20 was instrumental in stabilizing the world economy.\” I\’d be willing to hear a serious case that \”the G20 was instrumental in stabilizing the world economy\” through \”new consensus-building at the highest political level.\” But I\’m skeptical.