Monday, 20 May, 2013
12:47 GMT 16:47 Moscow
Local Time: 16:47
The G8 Group is an unofficial forum of the heads of the leading industrialized democracies (Russia, the U.S., Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Canada and Italy), where the European Commission is also represented and fully participates. This forum was designed to harmonize attitudes to acute international problems. The member states account for 49% of global exports, 51% of industrial output, and 49% of assets in the International Monetary Fund.
The history of the Group, which initially had consisted of seven members, began in November 1975, when the first meeting of the leaders of six countries met in Rambouillet at the initiative of President of France Giscard d’Estaing. Canada joined the Group a year later.
EU representatives have attended G7 meetings since 1977 (the European Union is always represented at G8 Summits by the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council). Russia was admitted to the Group at the Denver summit in 1997.
G8 is not an international organization. It does not rest on an international agreement and does not have formal admission criteria, a charter or a permanent secretariat. Its decisions are formulated as the political commitments of the member states.
But G8 has developed a stable procedure, with summits held regularly by rote in the partner states and the host country acting as the chairman of G8 for a calendar year. It organizes the summit and ministerial, expert and working meetings, elaborates the schedule and coordinates the routine work of the Group.
Discussions of the heads of state and government are held behind closed doors, with G8 Sherpas (personal representatives of leaders) being the only outsiders. Decisions are adopted on the principle of consensus.
The annual working cycle of the Group is focused on the preparations for and the holding of summits, the key event at the “club.” The Sherpas, who usually meet quarterly, lead and coordinate preparations.
The Sherpas lead the national teams that consist of political directors, foreign affairs and financial Sous-Sherpas, and other national experts. The Russian Sherpa is Igor Shuvalov, an aide to the Russian President.
Regular meetings of foreign and finance ministers play a major part in the preparation of summits, which entail also (by agreement) the meetings of environment, energy, labor and social development, healthcare, science and education, interior and justice ministers (prosecutors general).
G8 also has working and expert groups and task forces. As of now, there are the High Level Group on Nonproliferation, the Rome/Lyons Group (on terrorism and organized crime), the Counter-Terrorism Expert Group, the G8 Personal Representatives for Africa, the Global Partnership Senior Officials Group, the G8 Nonproliferation Experts Group (with a plutonium subgroup), the Nuclear Safety and Security Group, and several others. G8 holds an average of 60 to 80 functions annually.
In accordance with the decision of the G8 summit in Kananaskis in 2002, Russia will take the rotating chair of the group on January 1, 2006.
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