France’s action in the G20

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The G20 (Group of 20) is an intergovernmental forum that brings together 19 countries with the most developed economies in the world and the European Union [1].
The Heads of State and Government of the members of this group meet annually with a view to ensuring the coordination of the biggest economies in the face of economic, social and environmental issues and more. Its members take turns holding the G20 Presidency.
Every year, the G20 Summit provides a forum for dialogue between Heads of State and Government. The Group constitutes an essential brick in the multilateral architecture due to its contribution to the governance of global issues in close liaison with the United Nations organizations and agencies. It provides an opportunity for France and its European partners to have the voice of the European Union heard regarding global issues and the governance of globalization.

Initially constituted at the level of finance ministers at the instigation of Canada in 1999, the Group of 20 met for the first time at the level of Heads of State and Government in 2008 amid a serious global financial crisis. In 2022, G20 members represent 75% of the world’s trade, 80% of global GDP and greenhouse gas emissions and two-thirds of the world’s population. It thus has the role of the leading global economic forum.

With the support of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the G20 gradually expanded the breadth of its discussions beyond the economic and financial area in the strict sense to incorporate a growing number of thematic sectors (climate and energy, digital economy, development, economic empowerment of women, health, agriculture, education, among others). These issues are the subject of special ministerial meetings, whose conclusions provide information for the annual Summits of Heads of State and Government.

The G20 has progressively become the main multilateral forum for addressing crises and coordinating action on global issues. It has attained several major achievements:

  • Strengthening of the financial system after the 2007-2008 financial crisis (Basel III Accords)
  • Fight against tax avoidance with the BEPS plan and implementation of international taxation of multinational companies,
  • Quality principles on the infrastructures adopted in Osaka in 2019,
  • Support for the ACT accelerator (Access to Covid-19 Tools) following the outbreak of the pandemic,
  • Implementation of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative in 2020,
  • A Common Framework for Debt Treatment for the G20 and Paris Club.
How French positions are established and their coordination

The diplomatic adviser to the President of the French Republic has traditionally taken on the role of G7 and G20 Sherpa and participates as such in Sherpas’ meetings to prepare for the G20 Leaders’ Summit (final declaration and political deliverables). At the Ministry, the Director-General for Global Affairs, Culture, Education and International Development acts as Sous-Sherpa. The DGM Task Force under the authority of the Director-General is responsible for preparing Sherpas’ meetings and summits.

The G20 mobilized to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences

Under Saudi Arabia’s presidencies (in 2020) then Italy (in 2021), the G20 has taken action to address the pandemic and economic and social consequences of the health crisis.

The G20 members agreed on tangible initiatives with a strong impact in response to the crisis in developing countries. For example, the moratorium on the payment of debt interest of the poorest countries (Debt Service Suspension Initiative, drawn up jointly with the World Bank and IMF), drafting of a G20/Paris Club Common Framework for Debt Treatment or an agreement on a global minimum tax rate.

The G20 stepped up its efforts in support of the ACT-A initiative and its COVAX vaccines pillar to address the pandemic and strengthen the international financial architecture for health over the long term, with the creation of a Joint Finance-Health Task Force. It also supported the One Health approach to improving health security and global epidemiological surveillance in order to facilitate the coordination and response to the health crisis, under the aegis of the World Health Organization.

G20 Rome Leaders’ Declaration and Press Conference of the President of the French Republic
G20 Riyadh Leaders’ Declaration

The Indonesian G20 Presidency (2022)

Indonesia took over the presidency for the first time on 1 December 2021, and will hold the annual Summit in Bali on 15 and 16 November 2022.

The following are priorities that the Indonesian Presidency wishes to focus on:

  • *Strengthening of the multilateral health architecture,
  • Digital transformation,
  • Sustainable energy transition.

France and its partners also wish to focus on the impact of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially regarding food security.

Op-ed of Catherine Colonna, relating to the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting

Upcoming presidencies
India (2023) then Brazil (2024) are scheduled to hold the G20 presidency after Indonesia.

Useful websites

[1Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU (represented by the European Commission), France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States. Spain and Singapore are permanent invited members.