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Group of Eight

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

President Nicolas Sarkozy

Chancellor Angela Merkel

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
President of the G8 for 2009

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama

President Dmitry Medvedev

Prime Minister Gordon Brown

President Barack Obama

Also represented
Commission President José Manuel Barroso
European Council President Fredrik Reinfeldt

The Group of Eight (G8, and formerly the G6 or Group of Six and also the G7 or Group of Seven) is a forum, created by France in 1975, for governments of the six richest countries in the world: Francemarker, Germanymarker, Italymarker, Japanmarker, the United Kingdommarker, and the United Statesmarker. In 1976, Canadamarker joined the group (thus creating the G7). In becoming the G8, the group added Russiamarker in 1997. In addition, the European Union is represented within the G8, but cannot host or chair. "G8" can refer to the member states or to the annual summit meeting of the G8 heads of government. The former term, G6, is now frequently applied to the six most populous countries within the European Union (see G6 ). G8 ministers also meet throughout the year, such as the G7/8 finance ministers (who meet four times a year), G8 foreign ministers, or G8 environment ministers.

Each calendar year, the responsibility of hosting the G8 rotates through the member states in the following order: Francemarker, United Statesmarker, United Kingdommarker, Russiamarker, Germanymarker, Japanmarker, Italymarker, and Canadamarker. The holder of the presidency sets the agenda, hosts the summit for that year, and determines which ministerial meetings will take place. Lately, both France and the United Kingdom have expressed a desire to expand the group to include five developing countries, referred to as the Outreach Five (O5) or the Plus Five: Brazilmarker, Chinamarker, Indiamarker, Mexicomarker, and South Africa. These countries have participated as guests in previous meetings, which are sometimes called G8+5.

With the G-20 growing in stature since the 2008 Washington summit, world leaders from the group announced at their Pittsburgh summit on September 25, 2009, that the group will replace the G8 as the main economic council of wealthy nations.


At the 34th G8 Summit at Toyako, Hokkaido, formal photo during Tanabata matsuri event for world leaders – Silvio Berlusconi (Italy), Dmitry Medvedev (Russia), Angela Merkel (Germany), Gordon Brown (UK), Yasuo Fukuda (Japan), George W.
Bush (U.S.), Stephen Harper (Canada), Nicolas Sarkozy (France), José Barroso (EU) – July 7, 2008.
The concept of a forum for the world's major industrialized democracies emerged following the 1973 oil crisis and subsequent global recession. In 1974 the United States created the Library Group, an informal gathering of senior financial officials from the United Statesmarker, the United Kingdommarker, West Germanymarker, Japanmarker and Francemarker. In 1975, French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing invited the heads of government from West Germany, Italymarker, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States to a summit in Rambouilletmarker. The six leaders agreed to an annual meeting organized under a rotating presidency, forming the Group of Six (G6). The following year, Canadamarker joined the group at the behest of Germanymarker's Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and U.S. President Gerald Ford and the group became the 'Group of Seven' -or G7. The European Union is represented by the President of the European Commission and the leader of the country that holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The President of the European Commission has attended all meetings since it was first invited by the United Kingdom in 1977 and the Council President now also regularly attends.

Following 1994's G7 summit in Naples, Russian officials held separate meetings with leaders of the G7 after the group's summits. This informal arrangement was dubbed the Political 8 (P8) – or, colloquially, the G7+1. At the invitation of United Kingdommarker Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S.marker President Bill Clinton, Russia formally joined the group in 1997, resulting in the Group of Eight, or G8.

Structure and activities

The G8 is intended to be an informal forum, and it therefore lacks an administrative structure like those for international organizations, such as the United Nations or the World Bank. The group does not have a permanent secretariat, or offices for its members. In 2008, the president of the European Union Commission participated as an equal in all summit events.

The presidency of the group rotates annually among the member countries, with each new term beginning on 1 January of the year. The country holding the presidency is responsible for planning and hosting a series of ministerial-level meetings, leading up to a mid-year summit attended by the heads of government. Japan held the G8 presidency in 2008, Italy is the 2009 president, and Canada will be president in 2010.

The ministerial meetings bring together ministers responsible for various portfolios to discuss issues of mutual or global concern. The range of topics include health, law enforcement, labor, economic and social development, energy, environment, foreign affairs, justice and interior, terrorism, and trade. There are also a separate set of meetings known as the G8+5, created during the 2005 Gleneagles, Scotlandmarker summit, that is attended by finance and energy ministers from all eight member countries in addition to the five "Outreach Countries": Brazilmarker, Chinamarker, Indiamarker, Mexicomarker, and South Africa.

In June 2005, justice ministers and interior ministers from the G8 countries agreed to launch an international database on pedophiles. The G8 officials also agreed to pool data on terrorism, subject to restrictions by privacy and security laws in individual countries.

Global energy

At the Heiligendamm Summit in 2007, the G8 acknowledged a proposal from the EU for a worldwide initiative on energy efficiency. They agreed to explore, along with the International Energy Agency, the most effective means to promote energy efficiency internationally. A year later, on 8 June 2008, the G8 along with Chinamarker, Indiamarker, South Koreamarker and the European Community established the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation, at the Energy Ministerial meeting hosted by Japanmarker holding 2008 G8 Presidency, in Aomori.

G8 Finance Ministers, whilst in preparation for the 34th Summit of the G8 Heads of State and Government in Toyako, Hokkaidomarker, met on the 13 and 14 June 2008, in Osaka, Japan. They agreed to the “G8 Action Plan for Climate Change to Enhance the Engagement of Private and Public Financial Institutions.” In closing, Ministers supported the launch of new Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) by the World Bank, which will help existing efforts until a new framework under the UNFCCC is implemented after 2012.

The Annual Summit

The annual G8 leaders summit is attended by eight of the world's most powerful heads of government. However, as noted by commentators the G-8 summit is not the place to flesh out the details of any difficult or controversial policy issue in the context of a three-day event. Rather, the meeting is to bring a range of complex and sometimes inter-related issues. The G8 summit brings leaders together not so they can dream up quick fixes, but to talk and think about them together.

The G8 summit is an international event which is observed and reported by news media, but the G8's relevance is unclear. The member country holding the G8 presidency is responsible for organising and hosting the year's summit, held for three days in mid-year; and for this reason, Tony Blair and the United Kingdom accumulated the lion's share of the credit for what went right (and wrong) at Gleneagles in 2005. Similarly, Yasuo Fukuda and Japan hope to garner the greater part of the credit for what went well (and what did not) at the Hokkaido Summit in 2008.

Each of the 35 G8 summit meetings could have been called a success if the events had been re-framed as venues to generate additional momentum for solving problems at the other multilateral conferences that meet throughout the year. The G8 summit sets the stage for what needs to be done and establishes an idea of how to do it, even if that idea is, at best, rough and patchy.

The summits have also been the site of numerous, large-scale anti-globalization protests.

Date Host country Host leader Location held Website Notes
1st November 15–17, 1975 Valéry Giscard d'Estaing Rambouilletmarker G6 Summit
2nd June 27–28, 1976 Gerald R. Ford Doradomarker, Puerto Rico Canada joins the group, forming the G7
3rd May 7–8, 1977 James Callaghan Londonmarker President of the European Commission is invited to join the annual G-7 summits
4th July 16–17, 1978 Helmut Schmidt Bonnmarker, North Rhine-Westphaliamarker
5th June 28–29, 1979 Masayoshi Ōhira Tokyomarker
6th June 22–23, 1980 Francesco Cossiga Venicemarker
7th July 20–21, 1981 Pierre E. Trudeau Montebellomarker, Quebecmarker
8th June 4–6, 1982 François Mitterrand Versailles
9th May 28–30, 1983 Ronald Reagan Williamsburgmarker, Virginiamarker
10th June 7–9, 1984 Margaret Thatcher Londonmarker
11th May 2–4, 1985 Helmut Kohl Bonnmarker, North Rhine-Westphaliamarker
12th May 4–6, 1986 Yasuhiro Nakasone Tokyomarker
13th June 8–10, 1987 Amintore Fanfani Venicemarker
14th June 19–21, 1988 Brian Mulroney Torontomarker
15th July 14–16, 1989 François Mitterrand Parismarker
16th July 9–11, 1990 George H. W. Bush Houstonmarker, Texasmarker
17th July 15–17, 1991 John Major Londonmarker
18th July 6–8, 1992 Helmut Kohl Munichmarker, Bavariamarker
19th July 7–9, 1993 Kiichi Miyazawa Tokyomarker
20th July 8–10, 1994 Silvio Berlusconi Naplesmarker
21st June 15–17, 1995 Jean Chrétien Halifaxmarker, Nova Scotiamarker
22nd June 27–29, 1996 Jacques Chirac Lyonmarker International organizations' debut to G8 Summits periodically. The invited ones here were: United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fundmarker and the World Trade Organization.
23rd June 20–22, 1997 Bill Clinton Denvermarker, Coloradomarker [9463] Russia joins the group, forming G8
24th May 15–17, 1998 Tony Blair Birminghammarker, Englandmarker [9464]
25th June 18–20, 1999 Gerhard Schröder Cologne, North Rhine-Westphaliamarker [9465] First Summit of the G-20 major economies at Berlinmarker
26th July 21–23, 2000 Yoshiro Mori Nago, Okinawamarker [9466] Formation of the G8+5 starts, when South Africa was invited. Since then, it has been invited to the Summit annually without interruption. Also, with permission from a G8 leader, other nations were invited to the Summit on a periodical basis for the first time. Nigeriamarker, Algeriamarker and Senegalmarker accepted their invitations here. The World Health Organization was also invited for the first time, too.
27th July 20–22, 2001 Silvio Berlusconi Genoamarker [9467] Leaders from Bangladeshmarker, Malimarker and El Salvadormarker accepted their invitations here. Demonstrator Carlo Giuliani is accidentally shot and killed by police during a violent demonstration.
28th June 26–27, 2002 Jean Chrétien Kananaskismarker, Albertamarker [9468] Russia gains permission to officially host a G8 Summit.
29th June 2–3, 2003 Jacques Chirac Évian-les-Bainsmarker [9469] The G8+5 was unofficially made, when Chinamarker, Indiamarker, Brazilmarker, and Mexicomarker were invited to this Summit for the first time. South Africa has joined the G8 Summit since 2000. Other first-time nations that were invited by the French president included: Egyptmarker, Moroccomarker, Saudi Arabiamarker, Malaysiamarker and Switzerlandmarker.
30th June 8–10, 2004 George W. Bush Sea Island, Georgiamarker [9470] A record number of leaders from 12 different nations accepted their invitations here. Amongst a couple of veteran nations, the others were: Ghanamarker, Afghanistanmarker, Bahrainmarker, Iraqmarker, Jordanmarker, Turkeymarker, Yemenmarker and Uganda.
31st July 6–8, 2005 Tony Blair Gleneaglesmarker, Scotlandmarker [9471] The G8+5 was officially formed. On the second day of the meeting, suicide bombers killed over 50 people on the London Underground and a bus. Nations that were invited for the first time were Ethiopiamarker and Tanzania. The African Union and the International Energy Agency made their debut here.
32nd July 15–17, 2006 Vladimir Putin Strelnamarker, St. Petersburgmarker [9472] First G8 Summit on Russian soil. Also, the International Atomic Energy Agencymarker and UNESCOmarker made their debut here.
33rd June 6–8, 2007 Angela Merkel Heiligendammmarker, Mecklenburg-Vorpommernmarker [9473] Seven different international organizations accepted their invitations to this Summit. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Commonwealth of Independent States made their debut here.
34th July 7–9, 2008 Yasuo Fukuda Toyako marker, Hokkaidomarker [9474] Nations that accepted their G8 Summit invitations for the first time are: Australia, Indonesiamarker and South Koreamarker.
35th July 8–10, 2009 Silvio Berlusconi L'Aquilamarker, Abruzzo [9475] This G8 Summit was originally planned to be in La Maddalenamarker (Sardinia), but was moved to L'Aquila as a way of showing Prime Minister Berlusconi's desire to help the region in and around L'Aquila after the earthquake that hit the area on the April 6th, 2009. Nations that accepted their invitations for the first time were: Angolamarker, Denmarkmarker, Netherlandsmarker and Spainmarker. A record of TEN (10) international organizations were represented in this G8 Summit. For the first time, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Food Programme, and the International Labour Organization accepted their invitations.
36th June 25–27, 2010 Huntsville, Ontariomarker [9476] Possible final G8 Summit to be held. It will be held in the Muskoka District Municipality area (which includes the town of Huntsville) It had also originally been chosen to host a G20 Summit at the same time but now has been moved to Torontomarker.
37th 2011 TBD

G8 member facts

All eight of the ten (10) top-ranked leading export countries are in the G8.The UK, the USA, Canada, France, and Germany have nominal per capita GDP over US$40,000 dollars.Some of the world's twenty (20) largest stock exchanges by market value are in G8 countries (U.S., Japan, UK, France, Canada, Germany).The G8 countries represent 7 of the 9 largest economies by nominal GDP (Russia isn't one of the 9 largest economies by nominal GDP but has the 7th largest real GDP; Canada was 8th in 2006 but in 2007 it lost 8th place to Spain, as it did in 2003, prompting the previous government headed by José María Aznar to request Spain's entrance in the G8). As a matter of fact, Spain is not even a member of the G20.

The 2nd and 3rd largest oil producers (USA and Russia) and the country with the 2nd largest reserves (Canada) are in the G8.Seven of the nine largest nuclear energy producers are in the G8 (USA, France, Japan, Russia, Germany, Canada, UK).The 7 largest donors to the UN budget for the 2009 annual fiscal year are in the G8 (U.S., Japan, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Canada). Of course, the G8 and the G8+5 make up some of the 14-nation "trillion dollar club of nations."

Cumulative influence of member nations

Together the eight countries making up the G8 represent about 14% of the world population, but they represent about 60% of the Gross World Product as measured by gross domestic product, all 8 nations being within the top 12 countries according to the CIA World Factbook. (see the CIA World Factbook column in List of countries by GDP ), the majority of global military power (seven are in the top 8 nations for military expenditure), and almost all of the world's active nuclear weapons.. In 2007, the combined G8 military spending was US$850 billion. This is 72% of the world's total military expenditures. (see List of countries and federations by military expenditures) Four of the G8 members, the United Kingdommarker, United States of Americamarker, Francemarker and Russiamarker, together account for 96–99% of the world's nuclear weapons . (see List of states with nuclear weapons)

Criticism and demonstrations

As the annual summits are extremely high profile, they are subject to extensive lobbying by advocacy groups and street demonstrations by activists.

The best-known criticisms centre on the assertion that members of G8 are responsible for global issues such as poverty in Africa and developing countries due to debt and trading policy, global warming due to carbon dioxide emission, the AIDS problem due to strict medicine patent policy and other issues related to globalization. During the 31st G8 summit in Scotland, 225,000 people took to the streets of Edinburgh as part of the Make Poverty History campaign calling for Trade Justice, Debt Relief and Better Aid. Numerous other demonstrations also took place challenging the legitimacy of the G8.

Of the anti-globalization movement protests, one of the largest and most violent occurred for the 27th G8 summit [9477]. Since that G8 Summit and the subsequent September 11, 2001 attacks on the United Statesmarker occurred months apart in the same year, the G8 have gathered at some forms of remote locations every year since then. The 7 July 2005 London bombings were timed to coincide with the 31st G8 summit in Scotlandmarker.

The group has also been criticized for its membership, which critics argue has now become unrepresentative of the world's most powerful economies. In particular, China has recently surpassed every economy except the United States and Japan. Canadamarker has been in recent years overtaken by Brazilmarker and Spainmarker by nominal GDP. Russia now has a nominal GDP in the top eight (8) in the world by the International Monetary Fund and the CIA World Factbook for 2008 [Ninth (9th), according to the World Bank].

See also

Notes, links, and references

External links


  1. The EU has the privileges and obligations of membership but does not host/chair summits. It is represented by the Commission and Council Presidents. 967.
  2. G8: The Most Exclusive Club in the World, Thomas S. Axworthy, The Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica Foundation of Canada, Toronto, Undated.Accessed07-12-2008.
  3. "Russia — Odd Man Out in the G-8", Mark Medish, The Globalist, 02-24-2006.Accessed: 07-12-2008
  4. G8 to launch international pedophile database David Batty June 18, 2005 The Guardian
  5. G8 to pool data on terrorism Martin Wainwright June 18, 2005 The Guardian
  6. The International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC). June 8, 2008.
  7. CLIMATE-L.ORG: G8 Finance Ministers Support Climate Investment Funds
  8. Feldman, Adam. "What's Wrong With The G-8," Forbes (New York). July 7, 2008.
  9. Lee, Don. "On eve of summit, G-8's relevance is unclear," Los Angeles Times. July 6, 2008
  10. Kirton, John. "A Summit of Substantial Success: The Performance of the 2008 G8"; page 88 and 89 G8 Information Centre — University of Toronto July 17, 2008.
  11. [see above on page 88 and 89]
  15. Canada to Host G8 and G20 in 2010
  16. Transition to G20 Will Broaden 2010 Summit in Canada
  17. United Nations Development Programme
  18. David Miller "Spinning the G8", Zednet, May 13th 2005.

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