The G7: Frequently Asked Questions


The Role of the G7

What is the G7?

The Group of 7 (G7) is an informal group of seven countries, the Heads of State and Government of which meet at an annual summit. It has no legal existence, permanent secretariat or official members. It is the Presidency, which is held by one of the seven countries in turn every year, that provides the resources required for the group’s work. The European Union is represented at the G7 by the European Council President and the European Commission President.

Why was the G7 created?

The G7 was created on France’s initiative during the crisis following the first oil crisis. It was conceived as an informal forum for dialogue between the leading economic powers, with the primary aim of acting as a forum to coordinate economic and financial policies free of any specific protocol. Over the years, the G7’s multilateral dimension has helped established a collective framework for better regulation of globalization.

What issues does the G7 address?

In addition to addressing the economic issues it focused on initially, the G7 is now a forum for concertation where common responses are found for major global challenges including peace and security, counter-terrorism, development, education, health, the environment and climate change.

What are the advantages of the G7 forum?

The G7 offers a unique framework: its select and informal membership allows the leaders of the seven powers to engage in frank and direct dialogue.

The effectiveness of this dialogue draws on a basis of shared values within the group: democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, free markets, and respect for international law. This possibility of free expression and these shared values make it possible to tackle sensitive subjects where consensus may be lacking.

Is the G7 in competition with the UN?

The main benefit of the G7 is that it is a driving force and a space where new solutions can be tested, before being promoted in other forums such as the United Nations and multilateral technical or financial institutions. Therefore, the G7 does not stand against the United Nations, but rather in support of it.

Has the G20 replaced the G7?

The G20 became important in addressing the financial crisis, where the G8 had shown its limits. However, the G7 does have benefits over the G20 in that it brings together like-minded countries that achieve concrete results more easily.

The Members of the G7

What are the G7 members?

The members of the G7 are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The group started out as the G6 at the first summit in Rambouillet (France) in 1975, before becoming the G7 when Canada joined the following year.

The European Union was gradually involved in the G7 starting from 1977. It now takes part in all discussions and is represented jointly by the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission.

What do the G7 members represent collectively?

The G7 members currently represent close to 40% of global GDP and 10% of the world’s population. When the group was created in 1975, they represented 70% of global GDP.

The G7 members are all members of the G20. The G7 therefore plays a “pilot” role where initiatives can be prepared in a select group before being adopted by the G20, the members of which represent 85% of global economic production and two thirds of the world’s inhabitants.

Why has the G8 become the G7?

The G7 became the G8 when the Russian Federation joined from 1998. However, the leaders of the European members, North American members and Japan suspended their participation in the G8 in 2014 – during the Russian Presidency – because of the violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. They resumed work the same year in a seven-member format.

Apart from its members, who takes part in G7 meetings?

Depending on the key themes chosen by the Presidency, non-member countries and international organizations are invited to take part in ministerial meetings and certain summit sessions, including the expanded meeting traditionally called the “Outreach Session”.

What role do non-State stakeholders play?

Over the years, the G7 has developed interactions with non-State stakeholders. These interactions have given rise to the creation of official engagement groups: the Business 7 for business, the Civil 7 for civil society, the Labour 7 for trade unions, the Science 7 for academies of science, the Think 7 for think-tanks, the Women 7 for women’s rights organizations, and the Youth 7 for young people. Each groups meets under the auspices of an organization from the country holding the G7 Presidency. Its representatives pass on their recommendations to the G7 Presidency and are invited to certain G7 meetings and sessions.

How the G7 works

How does the G7 work?

Preparation of G7 work has been stepped up over the years. While the group remains informal, it is no longer limited to a “fireside chat” between national leaders. It involves many experts, political leaders and civil society representatives throughout the year.

How is the Summit prepared?

The Summit is prepared during meetings between the personal representatives of the G7 leaders: the “Sherpas”. They coordinate the work and negotiate the final communiqué of the Summit. Their meetings are supported by the reports of the thematic working groups and the results of the G7 ministerial meetings.

Why do the G7 ministers meet?

In addition to preparing the Summit, countries holding the G7 Presidency organize ministerial meetings. While meetings of Foreign Ministers and Finance Ministers are held systematically, other ministerial meetings may also be held. During their meetings, the ministers endorse decisions at their level which may be adopted by the leaders during the Summit.

What are the outcomes of G7 Summits?

The G7 has been behind very concrete achievements including the creation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Deauville Partnership launched after the “Arab Springs”, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Muskoka Initiative to reduce maternal and infant mortality, as well as supporting the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.

What is the G7 Presidency?

The G7 member country holding the Presidency organizes the Leaders’ Summit. It determines the major priorities that will shape the discussions, sets down a schedule for preparatory meetings and facilitates the organization of work. The Presidency also decides which third countries and organizations are invited to certain Summit sessions.

It is also responsible for communicating on behalf of the G7 and for relations with non-G7 countries, international organizations and civil society.

How is the G7 Presidency chosen?

The G7 has a rotating Presidency. Each year, the Presidency is held by one of the member countries, in the same order: France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada.

The French G7 Presidency

Where will France host the G7 meetings?

The Leaders’ Summit will be held in Biarritz, from 24 to 26 August 2019. The ministerial meetings and “Sherpa” meetings will be organized in Paris and several cities across France. The venues will be confirmed at the beginning of France’s Presidency.

For more information, please consult the website of the French Presidency of the G7

Who will host the G7 after France?

Under the rotating Presidency principle, the United States will take over the G7 Presidency from 1 January 2020 and host the Leaders’ Summit.

Updated: 12 October 2018