The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every nation and is a truly global event of utmost importance to world leaders. The acute health, economic and social consequences of the crisis have underscored the need for a coordinated international response. The G7 and G20 platforms are practical institutions capable of advancing the dialogue on this critical issue.
The Covid-19 pandemic currently acts as a magnifying glass under which we can view the state of international cooperation. What we see there is cause for deep concern. We are observing a global health crisis to which only a few countries have reacted quickly, transparently and on the basis of facts. Too often, trivialisation, cover-ups or the spreading of conspiracy theories have prevented an effective response. As a result, over 400,000 people have died so far.
The G7 summitry is in serious doubt. As is widely reported, German Chancellor Merkel declined the invitation by US president Trump, currently holding the G7 presidency, to attend the meeting, and in turn Mr Trump announced that the meeting would be postponed until September, with its membership expanded to Russia, Australia, India and South Korea.
The many skeptics of the annual G7 summit of major market democracies have long doubted that the promises its leaders make together from their sunny summit peak are actually kept when they return to the dark valleys of domestic politics back home. Such skepticism has spiked as US president Donald Trump prepares to host the 2020 G7 summit, amidst a still deadly COVID-19 pandemic and massive economic pain.
Donald Trump’s decisions on May 30th regarding the G7 summit are remarkable. As a bundle of separate decisions, they do not reflect a strategy nor are they consistent or even coherent.
First, attempting to hold a live G7 summit with all the thousands of officials and media involved uncovers his attempt to use the summit as evidence of America open for business, which is premature at best, and highly manipulative, at worst.
Leadership from the Group of Seven (G7) is needed more than ever as the pandemic continues to devastate economies and as we begin to grapple with the many legacies this global crisis will leave in its wake. Given the increased need for G7 leadership at this time, it is notable that the next meeting is being postponed to September, if it will be held at all.
The 2020 G7, the fourth of the Trump era, has been postponed to September. It is no coincidence: in the US, the novel coronavirus continues to take its toll (with over 110,000 deaths as of June 9th), unemployment has more than quadrupled from 3% to 13%, and George Floyd’s death two weeks ago has sparked racial and social protests that continue to this day. Hosting a G7 summit under these circumstances would have been extremely risky. Yet, paradoxically, Trump hoped to be able to pull it off until just a few days ago.
On June 10 a virtual G7 summit was supposed to take place in the US. As the Covid-19 pandemic is still taking its toll across the world, Donald Trump tried to hold the G7 in person in late June. After a (very) cold reception by the other leaders he had to postpone the meeting until September. However, this decision is raising further doubts, as the US presidential elections will be just around the corner, and as President Trump plans to invite other countries, most notably Russia. Is the G7 still a meaningful summit?
Today’s European Union is in an identity crisis as it seems to be losing its points of reference. The principles that upheld its creation are being increasingly questioned around the world and within the EU itself. Its chances to survive hinge upon its ability to deliver at home and abroad, without abandoning its values and principles but rather adapting and re-launching them.
Cities are gaining importance and influence worldwide. They sustain the global economy, set cultural trends, produce greenhouse gas emissions and consume energy; they attract migration flows and foster new political waves. While cities were supposed to be declining back in the 1980s, the globalized economy has established them as crucial world hubs leading billions of people on every continent, both at the top and the bottom of the social ladder, to move to cities. Today, global cities cry out for a more prominent role. But why and to what extent do they matter?