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Brussels, 17 May 2012

The European Union at the G8 summit in Camp David (U.S.): Questions and Answers

What are the topics on the agenda?

Leaders at this year's G8 summit will address the following main topics:

  • regional and political developments and security issues;

  • economic and global issues;

  • energy and climate issues;

  • food security;

  • economic transition of Afghanistan;

  • transition in the Middle East and North Africa;

Is the European Union a full G8 member?

Yes. The history of the G8 Summits goes back to 1975, when the first G8 Summit was held in Rambouillet (France). Representatives of the then European Community began participating in the London Summit in 1977. Originally, the EU had a limited role to those areas in which it had exclusive competences, but the EU’s role has grown with time. The European Commission was gradually included in all political discussions on the summit agenda and took part in all summit working sessions, as of the Ottawa Summit (1981). Today the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council represent the EU who is a full member in the annual G8 Summits. Commission President Barroso, who attended the G8 for the first time in Gleneagles in 2005, is participating for the 8th time, while Council President Van Rompuy has been attending the G8 since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.

Because the European Union is a unique supranational organisation – not a sovereign Member State – the name G8, 'Group of Eight Nations', still stands. For the same reason, the EU does not assume the rotating G8 presidency. The European Union has all the privileges and obligations of membership except the right to host and chair a Summit. The Commission and the Council have all the responsibilities of membership, and what the Presidents of the Commission and the Council endorse at the Summit is politically binding.

For more information on this and previous G8 summits, please visit:

What is the EU's message on the economy?

A twin-track approach of stability and growth are key ingredients of the EU's response to the economic crisis, which is the only way to create confidence. Growth needs to come through a combination of structural reforms and targeted investments. It must not be debt-fuelled.

The EU believes the key lesson of the crisis is that you cannot have one without the other. Growth must come through stability, in combination with reform and investment.

As part of its crisis response, the EU has erected firewalls in the euro area to avoid contagion. The combined firepower of the EU's stabilisation instruments (EFSF and ESM) is about 1 trillion USD (or 700 billion EUR), which makes it the relatively strongest firewall in the world.

Find out more about the EU's crisis response on:

More on Europe 2020, the EU's growth strategy for the coming decade on:

How does EU trade policy seeks to create growth and jobs?

Europe is the world's largest exporter of manufactured goods and services, and is itself the biggest export market for more than one hundred countries. Together, the European Union's 27 members account for 19% of world imports and exports. The EU is an attractive market for other countries to do business with:

  • We have 500 million consumers looking for quality goods.

  • We are the world's largest single market with transparent rules and regulations

  • We have a secure legal investment framework that is amongst the most open in the world.

  • We are the most open market to developing countries in the world

Roughly 1/4 of EU growth comes from international trade. The development of trade - if properly managed - is a real opportunity to create growth and jobs. It is in this context that the EU strongly insists on fighting protectionism.

Find out more on the EU's common international trade policy on:

What climate efforts does the EU make?

Science tells us that all developed countries would need to reduce emissions by 80-95% in order to have a fair chance of keeping global warming below 2°C. If we do not step up climate action, temperatures might increase by as much as 4°C by 2100.

The European Union is a global leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past two decades, emissions have gone down by 16%, whereas the economy has grown by 40% over the same period. If current policies are fully implemented, the EU is on track to achieve its targets for 2020 of reducing emissions to 20% below 1990 levels and raising the share of renewables in its energy mix to 20%.

With its 'Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050' the European Commission is looking beyond these 2020 objectives and setting out a plan to meet the long-term target of reducing domestic emissions by 80 to 95% by mid-century as agreed by European Heads of State and governments. It shows how the sectors responsible for Europe's emissions - power generation, industry, transport, buildings and construction, as well as agriculture - can make the transition to a low-carbon economy over the coming decades.

The EU fully welcomes the focus of this G8 Summit on global climate action and underlines the need for strong and urgent measures, in the UN context, to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions to stay on track to meet the internationally agreed objectives and to speedily implement the Durban platform.

What is the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants?

This is the coalition launched in Washington on 16 February 2012 by the governments of Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the United States as well as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The Coalition is open to countries and non-state actors that are committed to taking action on short lived climate pollutants, and wish to join in this global effort.

What are the Short-Lived Climate Pollutants?

Short lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) are agents that have relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere - a few days to a few decades - and tend to have a warming influence on climate. The main short lived climate pollutants are black carbon, tropospheric ozone and methane, which are the most important contributors to the human enhancement of the global greenhouse effect after CO2. These short lived climate pollutants are also dangerous air pollutants, with various detrimental impacts on human health, agriculture and ecosystems. Other short lived climate pollutants include some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). While HFCs are currently present in small quantity in the atmosphere their contribution to climate forcing is projected to climb to as much as 19% of global CO2 emissions by 2050

Is the EU part of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition?

The European Commission has joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. This was announced at a meeting of the Coalition in Stockholm on 24 April 2012 and takes the number of Coalition partners to 13. The Commission believes that this initiative should complement the efforts needed under the UN climate change convention to cut global greenhouse gas emissions to a level that will limit global temperature increase to below 2°C.

Read more on the EU's climate efforts on:

Food security is high on the agenda of this G8. What is the EU's message in this respect?

The EU has always been at the forefront in the area of food security. Not only when there were crisis and maximum media attention, but also on a day-to-day basis in our cooperation with our partner countries, especially those prone to food insecurity. 2012 is the closing year of the successful L'Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI). The EU did very well on the L'Aquila commitments. Not only did the EU make the largest pledge – close to USD 4 billion out of the total USD 22 billion, but it has met this pledge in merely 2 years. Moreover, the EU Food Facility, announced by President Barroso at the G8 Summit in Japan in 2008, has helped to feed 50 million people in 50 countries around the world, through over 200 projects.

In general, the EU is by far the world's biggest donor of development aid, spending 0.42% of its gross national income (€53 billion or $73.6 billion) in 2011. This accounts for more than half of the global aid. Where the EU remains committed to reach the 0.7% GNI on development aid by 2015, it has also set out its 'Agenda for Change', a strategic EU approach to reducing poverty, including through a more targeted allocation of funding.

Read more on the EU's food security policy on:

Info on the EU's 'Agenda for Change', launched only a couple of days ago, can be found on:

What is the EU's strategy for Afghanistan?

For the EU, Afghanistan remains a priority: together, the EU and its Member States are one of Afghanistan's largest donors, providing around € 1 billion per year. The EU strives to coordinate more efficiently their assistance to Afghanistan and will also actively promote better use of international mechanisms. The EU agrees, following the Bonn Conference in December 2011, on the need of a clear commitment by all donors to remain engaged in Afghanistan after 2014.

Read more on the EU's strategy for Afghanistan on:

What about the EU's support for the transition process in the Middle East and North Africa?

On 15 May, the Commission announced that the EU bolsters its support to reformers in its Southern and Eastern neighbourhoods (read the full press release) in the framework of its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). This instrument reinforces relations with neighbouring countries, including those where democratic and economic transitions were triggered by the Arab Spring. The policy is based upon a mutual commitment to common values: democracy and human rights, rule of law, good governance, market economy principles and sustainable development; the goal is to promote prosperity, stability and security. One year after the G8 launch of the Deauville partnership, the EU re-oriented assistance programmes and made EUR 1 billion more available in 2011-2013 to be channelled through new innovative programmes, like SPRING for the Southern Neighbourhood. It increased the lending ceilings of the European Investment Bank by EUR 1.15 billion, and successfully proposed the extension of the mandate of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to the EU’s southern neighbours.

More on the European Neighbourhood Policy on:

Which other events do Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy attend in the United States?

Before attending the G8 summit, on 17 May, European Commission president José-Manuel Barroso will speak at the High-Level Debate of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 'The state of the world economy'. He will meet bilaterally with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and participate in a meeting of the Forum of Small States (FOSS), to which more than half of UN Member States belong. After the G8, President Barroso and President Van Rompuy will travel to the NATO summit in Chicago to attend the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the principal political decision-making body within NATO, on 20 May. The next day, President Van Rompuy will give a keynote speech at the Young Atlanticists Summit and President Barroso will represent the EU on NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) meeting on Afghanistan.

More news on the 2012 G8 Summit in Camp David:

President Barroso's G8 website:

President Van Rompuy's G8 website:

U.S. Department of State G8 website:

Twitter: and

Video material:


Press release: The European Union at the G8 summit in Camp David (U.S.) on 18-19 May 2012: "Acting together"

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