What you should know about the G7

What you should know about the G7

Credits: Donald J Trump/Twitter

The ongoing G7 Summit in France is being talked about for several reasons - Prime Minister Narendra Modi being invited by French President Emmanuel Macron, the Modi-Donald Trump meet, the discussion surrounding the Amazon fires, among other things. 

We take a look at the background of the G7.

The G7 is an informal international bloc that comprises seven world powers -- France, Germany, the US, Japan, the United Kingdom, Italy and Canada -- that meets annually, generally mid-year, and discusses economic, foreign, development and climate-related issues.

Unlike other international organisations, the G7 does not have its own administrative body. The country that presides over the summit gets to decide the agenda and hence plays a major role. At the end of each summit, a statement or communiqué is produced highlighting the results of the talks and next steps. 

The 'Summit Sherpas' or the representatives of the heads of state are the ones that prepare topics for the summit and summit conclusions.

Looking back

The G7 has its genesis in the global initiative of French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and Chancellor of Germany Helmut Schmidt in 1975. 

In what was G6 back then, six leading countries -- France, West Germany, the USA, Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy -- met for the first time at Château de Rambouillet in France. 

The Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries imposed an oil embargo on Japan, the US, the UK and other countries during the Arab-Israel war in 1973 and was one of the triggers for the idea behind the summit. The monetary crisis following President Nixon's suspension of the dollar's convertibility into gold in 1971 that caused the collapse of the Bretton Woods system is considered another reason. 

The heads of state of the six countries came together for the first time to discuss the oil shock, the financial crisis and the subsequent recession.

What came out of the meeting in 1975 was a 15-point communiqué, also known as the Declaration of Rambouillet, and an agreement to meet once a year under a rotating presidency. It was in 1976 that, with the entry of Canada, the group came to be known as the G7.

In 1977, the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, was invited to attend the Summit held in London. Since then, the EU is represented in every summit.

By the 1980s, foreign policy and security issues were included within the ambit of the topics discussed by the seven countries in addition to global economic policies. Today, the group discusses everything from global developments to climate-based concerns as observed this year with one discussion point focused on the Amazon fires in South America. 

Russia's entry and exit

In 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was invited to London for talks on the sidelines of the G7 Summit. Russia was formally admitted into the group in the Birmingham Summit of 1998, making it the G8. 

Trouble started brewing in 2014 after Russia's illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and the crisis that ensued. The other countries in the bloc boycotted the Summit that was scheduled to be held in the Russian city of Sochi. The country was then ejected from the bloc, making it the G7 again. The G7 members met in Brussels, Germany, that year.

At the 2019 G7 Summit, US President Donald Trump pushed for Russia's readmission into the group, which was met with mixed responses.