The UK should help reform the G8 before it is too late

Lawrence MacDonald at the Center for Global Development says we should scrap the G8

Once again the G8 has come up tragically short on climate change and a host of urgent problems affecting poor people in developing countries.

Meanwhile, over at Project Syndicate, Jim O’Neill says the G7 and G8 should be reformed by reducing European voice:

For example, why is there an international economic organization such as the G-7 without China, which is poised to overtake Germany as the world’s third largest economy and since 2000 has contributed almost as much to global economic activity as the entire euro zone? Most global economic issues today cannot be solved without policy steps in China. Indeed, how can the G-7 have the audacity to make repeated public comments about the currency of an outside country and hope for a positive response? It is almost farcical.

Meanwhile, France, Germany, and Italy are all in the G-7, even though they share the same monetary policy and currency. It would be better if the ECB and the EU finance ministers adopted a common position ahead of G-7 meetings, then allowed their joint view to be represented by a single Council representative and the ECB’s president. Because ministers meet before each G-7 meeting, this would be an easy procedure to introduce.

I think it is unlikely that the failure of the G8 to make sufficient progress on key questions such as climate change, Africa and food prices is because the European voice was too strong; the problem seems to be that the US, Japan, Russia and Canada are in denial about what is needed.

But the call for reform of the G8 is right, and it is an issue that the UK should be particularly focused on. The UK is likely to see its authority at the top tables of international diplomacy decline over time: institutions like the G7 and the Security Council will either be reformed to reflect the changing balance of global power, which means our voice will be reduced, or they will be more and more marginalized (we are already seeing this happen) and replaced by new, more relevant institutions .

Our interest now is seeing to it that new institutions are developed that protect the interests of the less powerful and smaller countries, which we are gradually becoming. If we do not invest in those reforms while we have influence, we will regret it later when we no longer have the opportunity to shape the new order.

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