26 May 2017

G7’s “Most Difficult Meeting”

The quiet resort town of Taormina, Sicily has become the center stage for the world’s politics theater since this morning. The leaders of the Group of Seven (G7), the world’s most powerful economic leaders, are meeting there to discuss the most crucial problems and international issues in today’s world – such as the fight against the terrorism, migration and climate change. The formal host of the event is the Italian Premier – Paolo Gentiloni, who welcomed his guests in the ancient Greek theater there early this morning.

The summit is happening only few days after the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester, which have shaken the world because of its monstrosity. According to Gentinoli, the G7 leaders have the vital task of producing “an important statement on terrorism and security”. He also said that “the extraordinary history and beauty that surrounds us will give a very important contribution to the G7 leaders”. However, most analysts expect the meeting to be controversial and cause a lot of arguments between the world leaders. Donald Tusk, the European Council President, himself, called the summit “the most difficult of the G7s”, underlining the different positions the US president Donald Trump and most of the others European leaders have on topics such as climate change and trade.

Climate Change

During his election campaign, Donald Trump has stated several times that he would cancel the Paris Agreement on global warming and stop paying the United Nations program on climate changes. Almost six months into the Oval office he still hasn’t done that, but many expect the G7 meeting will play a crucial role in his final decision.

Two years ago, at Paris’ G7 meeting, the world leaders agreed to reduce the so-called greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for the rapid global warming, by 26-28% by 2025 compared to their levels in 2005. “We know that the levels that were agreed to by the prior administration would be highly crippling to the US economic growth,” said Gary Cohn, White House economic adviser, explaining the president’s resilience to the agreement. Trump himself, several times, called global warming “a hoax”. However, according to some analysts, the European leaders will push the US President not to abandon the agreement. According to an unnamed German source, the European leaders will have a united position and they are determining to “get the whole G7 together”.

The Refugees

The choice of Sicily as host destination for the meeting, aimed to focus the attention of the world’s most powerful leaders on another global issue – the refugee migration crisis. The southern Italian island is the first place where thousands of African refugees are arriving each year. For more than a decade, the country has faced the burden of providing food and accommodation for them, as well as the need to deal with the increasing resistance of local communities. Italy hopes to find support from the other G7 countries on addressing the issue and to assist in that matter, invited the leaders of Tunisia, Niger, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya to join the summit. The discussion is planned for tomorrow morning and it is expected that Gentiloni will propose setting up a new fund to help economic growth in Africa. He counts on the strong support of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the president of the European Council Donald Tusk, who, several times, expressed their belief that Italy shouldn’t be left alone to deal with the refugees. On the other side, Donald Trump, will probably oppose these ideas, based on his own campaign against acceptance of more refugees and the fact that the new US budget include large cuts in the American foreign aid programme.

The Trade

The G7 meeting has started only a day after Donald Trump scolded his NATO allies for not spending enough money on the defence programme of the organization and reacted sharply against Germany, describing the number of cars they are selling in the US as “very bad”. The US deficit in goods traded with Germany is $65 billion in 2016 and according to Trump, that is evidence his country is losing the economic game, he pledged to stop. However, according Gary Cohn, Trump didn’t take an aggressive approach and his intentions are to offer “free and open trade” which means, “we will treat you the way you treat us, meaning if you don’t have barriers to trade or you don’t have tariffs, we won’t have tariffs.”

The G7 are the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Since 1997, the European Union it also represented in the meeting, by the president of the European Council. This year four of the seven leaders, will be participating in the meeting for the first time – French president Emmanuel Macron, British premier Theresa May, the US president Donald Trump and the Italian host, Paolo Gentiloni.

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