Under the motto “Think ahead, act together”, the 41st edition of the summit of the “Group of Seven Nations” (G7) will take place from 7 to 8 June in Schloss Elmau, Bavaria (Germany). The European Union will be represented by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. The main topics on the agenda, as set out by this year's German presidency, are the global economy, trade, as well as foreign affairs, security and health and development issues.
Leaders will also discuss the upcoming UN negotiations to develop a new international climate change agreement and the UN’s post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
1) GLOBAL ECONOMY
G7 leaders will take stock of the global economy. They will assess progress on Financial Market Regulation, and on the road to a fair and modern tax system. On the global trade agenda, G7 leaders are expected to further commit to open markets and to fight protectionism, to contribute to the full implementation of the WTO Bali package, and to take stock of major ongoing bilateral trade negotiations. Discussions on how to better apply international social and environmental standards in global supply chains will also be on the agenda.
- The role of the EU: The top priority of the EU is to get the European economy growing again; to increase the number of jobs without creating new debt, enhance public and private investment, as well as to ensure tax fairness and transparency and enable open and fair free trade. To this end, a number of major European priorities and initiatives are being undertaken:
- The Investment Plan for Europe – Europe faces an investment gap of hundreds of billions of Euro. With the Investment Plan for Europe and the recently agreed European Fund for Strategic Investments at its core, public and private investments in the real economy of at least €315 billion will be unlocked over the next three years. The ambitious timetable set out by the Commission is being respected and Finance Ministers are expected to approve the Regulation to set up the European Fund for Strategic Investments at the ECOFIN Council on 19 June. Afterward the European Parliament is expected to vote in plenary on the Regulation on 24 June, allowing the EFSI to be operational by September as planned. The Investment Plan foresees a smart mobilisation of public and private sources of finance - where every euro of public money is used to generate additional private investment, without creating new debt. In line with the European Council conclusions of December 2014, which invited the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group to "start activities by using its own funds as of January 2015", the EIB has already announced several projects to be pre-financed as part of the Investment Plan for Europe. The EIB is the Commission's strategic partner on the plan.
- The European Semester – All EU Member States coordinate their economic and fiscal policies under the European Semester. They have committed to implement Europe's growth strategy, Europe 2020, and to respect the Stability and Growth Pact to encourage sustainable growth built on fiscal responsibility. In this context, they strive to achieve the so-called Europe 2020 targets (on employment rates, R&D investment, climate change and energy sustainability, education, and fighting poverty and social exclusion). Each year, the Commission undertakes a detailed analysis of EU Member States' plans of budgetary, macroeconomic and structural reforms and provides them with recommendations for the next 12-18 months, which are discussed with Member States in the spirit of dialogue and partnership and subsequently endorsed by the European Council. For a detailed description of how the European Semester works, see http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/making-it-happen/index_en.htm.
- The EU’s Taxation Action Plan – One of the European Commission’s priorities for 2015 is to deliver an Action Plan to combat tax evasion and tax fraud. In March, the Commission already submitted legislative proposals on the automatic exchange of information between Member States on tax rulings to the European Parliament and the Council, together with a Communication on further tax transparency initiatives. Information exchange on tax rulings is also a key issue that the Commission President is putting on the global agenda, for example at the last G20 summit in Brisbane and at this G7 summit too. The next milestone will be an Action Plan on Corporate Taxation which will be presented by the Commission on 17 June and will focus on measures to make corporate taxation fairer and more efficient within the Single Market, including a re-launch of the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) and ideas for integrating new OECD/G20 actions to combat base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) at EU level. More info: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-4610_en.htm.
- The Capital Markets Union – In order to create deeper and more integrated capital markets in the 28 Member States of the EU, the European Commission is working on legislative proposals to establish a Capital Markets Union. The key objectives are to develop more diversified sources of funding for businesses in the EU; to unlock the capital around Europe and put it to work for the economy; and establish a genuine single market for capital in the EU where investors can more easily invest their funds across borders. More on the Capital Markets Union: http://ec.europa.eu/finance/capital-markets-union/index_en.htm.
- The EU’s trade and investment strategy – The EU is the world’s largest trading bloc and a staunch defender of the multilateral trading system and of fair and open trade. A recent report shows that between 1995 and 2011 EU jobs supported by exports to the rest of the world increased by 67% to reach 31.1 million. That's 12.5 million additional jobs supported by exports compared to 1995. Overall goals of the EU’s trade policy is creating growth and jobs in Europe, promoting development around the world and strengthening ties with important trading partners. The EU has launched major new bilateral negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the United States (TTIP) and a free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan. It has concluded many others, for example with South Korea and Canada, and is actively engaged in every ongoing multilateral or plurilateral trade initiative. The European Commission is preparing a new trade and investment strategy, to be released this autumn. The aim of the new strategy is to better respond to the changes in the global trade landscape over the last five years. The pace of conclusion of bilateral and regional free trade agreements has increased all over the world, and there is also new dynamism within and around the World Trade Organisation. The new strategy will focus, amongst others, on the economic impact of an open trade policy; on progress of the EU’s bilateral free trade agreements; and on the ongoing WTO efforts to reach a deal on the Doha round. More specifically, the new trade strategy will assess the necessary steps to promote responsible sourcing of supply chains. More on the EU’s trade policy.
2) FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY
Leaders will exchange views and seek common ground on the most pressing foreign policy challenges, like the situation in Ukraine, the relations with Russia, or the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq, as well as the situation in Libya. They will also address security policy issues, particularly the fight against terrorism.
- The role of the EU: The EU’s support to Ukraine – The EU is a key actor in the ongoing process to bring a solution to the crisis in Ukraine that respects its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence, as well as international law. The EU supports Ukraine in return for reforms. The fight against corruption in particular needs genuine efforts.
In relation to the situation in eastern Ukraine, the EU remains committed to swift and full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. The EU and its G7 partners have all adopted restrictive measures targeting those responsible for action against Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. The duration of the restrictive measures against the Russian Federation are clearly linked to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements. The G7 Leaders will continue to assess the situation. The EU is also providing unprecedented financial support, following the announcement last year of an €11 billion package to encourage Ukraine’s economic and political reforms. Support also includes humanitarian assistance, development aid and budget support. The implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, will bring opportunities for sustainable economic development and prosperity to all the regions of Ukraine, as well as to its neighbours. All in all, the EU, together with its Member States, remains the largest source of support for Ukraine.
- The EU’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis – The Syrian crisis has become the world's worst humanitarian and security disaster. The EU and its constituent countries are leading the international response. As the largest donor, they have mobilised over €3 billion in development and humanitarian aid since the conflict began. This aid is dispensed both inside Syria and to refugees and their host communities. With the launch of the EU Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis on 29 May, European response programmes for €40 million were adopted. The EU Trust Fund will provide aid to 400,000 Syrian refugees and host communities in need in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq, focusing on education, livelihoods and food security targeting especially children and young people. This initiative should be seen as an integral part of the EU efforts to work with third countries on the comprehensive approach to managing migration better in all its aspects as also reflected in the European Agenda on Migration published on 13 May 2015. More information: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-5074_en.htm. On the overall relations between the EU and Syria see: http://eeas.europa.eu/syria/
- The EU’s agenda on Security – In April, the European Commission has set out a European Agenda on Security for the next five years. Aim is to support Member States' cooperation in tackling security threats and step up common efforts in the fight against terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime. The Agenda sets out the concrete tools and measures which will be used in this joint work to ensure security and tackle these three most urgent threats more effectively, including security concerns originating from instability in the EU's immediate neighbourhood and changing forms of radicalisation, violence and terrorism. More info: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-security/index_en.htm.
3) CLIMATE CHANGE
The G7 will discuss and is expected to take an ambitious position in support of the negotiations on the Post-2015 development agenda in New York and ahead of the climate change Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris at the end of the year.
- The role of the EU: The EU has the world's most ambitious and legally binding commitments on climate change and is at the forefront of international negotiations for a new global climate agreement, which is due to be finalised by 2015 and implemented from 2020. The EU has committed to an ambitious reduction target of at least 40% in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 compared to 1990; to at least 27% of total energy consumption from renewable energy; and to at least 27% increase in energy efficiency. Europe has shown that it is possible to act: from 1990 to 2013, EU emissions declined 19% while GDP grew 45%.
The EU is currently the most GHG-efficient major economy in the world, and encourages other nations to follow, to match this ambition. Climate action has been part of the political and legislative agenda for many years and is an integral part of the European Energy Union strategy.
Cutting greenhouse gas emissions is not only helping to prevent dangerous climate change. Turning Europe into a highly energy-efficient and low-carbon economy will also boost the economy, create jobs and strengthen Europe's competitiveness: according to Eurostat 2012 data, the EU already has 4.3 million people working in green industries. This is a real success story for European industry even in times of an economic slowdown. It is estimated that the 2030 climate and energy framework would create up to 700,000 additional jobs in Europe. With more ambitious renewable energy and energy efficiency, net employment could increase by up to 1.2 million jobs.
More info on EU Climate Change policy: http://ec.europa.eu/clima/index_en.htm.
G7 leaders will discuss the next steps towards a new international agreement on the future global framework for poverty eradication and sustainable development, the so-called ‘post-2015 development agenda’. The G7 conclusions will be a vital contribution to the Third International Conference “Financing for Development” in Addis Ababa (July), and the UN summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda in New York (September).
- The role of the EU: 2015 has been called the European Year for Development (EYD). Together, the European Union and its Member States are the world's largest aid donor. In 2013 they provided more than half of public aid or “official development assistance” as defined by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Together, they spent €56.5 billion in 2013 on helping countries across the world in their fight against poverty. Over the last decade, thanks to EU funding, almost 14 million pupils could go to primary school, more than 70 million people were linked to improved drinking water, and over 7.5 million births were attended by skilled health workers, saving the lives of mothers and babies. The EU has been a leading contributor towards the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015). In 15 years, significant progress has been made: the number of people without access to drinking water and the number of people in extreme poverty have been halved;malaria deaths and HIV infection rates are down; and more people than ever have access to primary education. However, much more has to be done. The EU is fully committed to playing a leading role in setting the post-2015 agenda for poverty eradication and sustainable development.
EU development aid goes to around 150 countries in the world. Since 2014, the EU is phasing out direct aid to large countries that have experienced strong economic growth and managed to reduce poverty, and is focussing on the poorest regions in the world instead. In the period 2014-2020, about 75% of EU support will go to these regions which, in addition, often are hard hit by natural disasters or conflict. EU aid will also focus more on certain sectors such as good governance, human rights, democracy, health, education, but also agriculture and energy. The EU applies a system of “Policy coherence for development” in policy areas such as trade and finance, agriculture, security, climate change or migration, in order to foster growth and overcome poverty in development countries, by – for example – opening its large single market to these countries, or setting up standards to fight illegal exploitation of natural resources. More info on EU development aid and the European Year for Development: https://europa.eu/eyd2015/en.
- Food security remains at the centre of the EU's development policy. Since 2013, the EU has stepped up efforts to fight against world hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, with a new policy framework that delivers on the EU's commitment to help partner countries reduce growth stunting amongst children under five years of age by at least 10% (7 million) by 2025. Under-nutrition will also be contained through investment in rural development, sustainable agriculture, public health, water and sanitation, social protection and education. The EU’s aid in support of food and nutrition security in developing countries is mainly financed through geographical instruments (the European Development Fund, the Development Cooperation Instrument and the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument) and thematic programmes. More info: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/sectors/food-and-agriculture/food-and-nutrition-security_en.
5) OTHER IMPORTANT ISSUES ON THE AGENDA
Other topics put forward by the German presidency include protection of the marine environment and resource efficiency; antibiotic resistance, neglected and poverty-related diseases, and Ebola; and the empowerment of self-employed women and women in vocational training.
6) G7 OUTREACH MEETING
Traditionally, a number of third country heads of state and government, as well as chairpersons of international organisations, are invited to participate in the summit. This year the following figureheads will be participating: Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi, President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari, President of Senegal Macky Sall and President of Tunisia Beji Caid Essebsi. Ms Dlamini Zuma, Chair of the Commission of the African Union, will also be present, as will be UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, OECD Secretary-General José Ángel Gurría and WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and International Labour Organisation Director General Guy Ryder.
7) THE EU AS G7 MEMBER
The European Union is a full member in the G7 and takes part in its work at all levels. Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty the EU is represented by both the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council.
In 1977, representatives of the then European Community began participating in the London Summit. The first G7 summit was held two years earlier, in 1975 in Rambouillet (France). Originally, the EU's role was limited role to those areas in which it had exclusive competences, but this has changed 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).
The G7 is a forum for discussion where leaders take commitments to achieve common objectives, putting their credibility at stake. In doing so, the G7 provides critical leadership to address global challenges.
Although the EU is not part of the rotation to host G7 Summits,, the 2014 G7 Summit was hosted, for the first time, by the European Union and was held in Brussels. Originally, a G8 summit was scheduled to take place in Sochi (Russia) under a Russian presidency. However, following the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Crimea, the G7 leaders (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission) decided at their meeting on 24 March 2014 in The Hague (Netherlands) to meet in the G7 format instead and to "suspend our participation in the G-8 until Russia changes course and the environment comes back to where the G-8 is able to have a meaningful discussion." More information on the Brussels G7 summit in 2014:
Germany will hand over the Presidency to Japan for 2016. The Presidency will continue in its rotation to Italy in 2017, Canada in 2018, France in 2019, and the USA in 2020.