June 11, 2021: World leaders are gathering for the G7 summit in Cornwall this week. Here we look at the key themes that will dominate their meeting and what might constitute a successful outcome from discussions.
Russia and Threats to democracy
One of Biden’s main goals is to show Western solidarity ahead of his upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin in Geneva. The US president wrote in the Washington Post that he intends to “attract the world’s democratic parties” and carry out a major foreign policy process, following the unprecedented potential of his predecessor, Donald Trump. The commitment led to the service of dictatorial democracies, including the Russian leader.
The G7 foreign ministers, after meeting last month to raise money, said they were “deeply concerned” about Russia’s “negative pattern of irresponsible and unstable behavior”. After landing in Britain on Wednesday night, Biden told US troops at an air base in Suffolk: “We are going to make it clear that the United States is back and that world democracies are facing the most difficult challenges and Stand together for most of our future.
Leading G7 critics often point to China’s absence because of the diminishing influence of world leaders. Still, there will be a major topic on the superpower agenda, with Australia, South Korea and India being invited as guests. Beijing’s access and influence is a key issue for them. Biden’s agenda is to persuade European nations to take China’s pressure on democracies more seriously, as Chinese investment in infrastructure and business enters Europe. Boris Johnson, whose recent defense and security review has been revived to a new “Indo-Pacific tilt”, is keen to find ways to cooperate to reduce Beijing’s influence.
Johnson has announced that he would like the world to see polio drops by the end of 2022, but did not elaborate on how the UK would like to be. Most G7 countries are now on the path to fully vaccinating their adult populations, and the UK itself has received millions of additional doses, with the world looking to the G7 for a detailed, financially-funded project.
More than 200 former world leaders and foreign ministers, including two former British prime ministers, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, wrote letters to G7 leaders earlier this week urging them to reduce vaccines. Agree to meet two-thirds of the 46 46.6 billion expansion. Income countries. The agreement to do so will be a solid legacy of the Cornwall Summit.
As seen by many as a sign of hope for a multilateral return, the G7 finance ministers signed a landmark agreement in London last week, laying the groundwork for a global tough tax regime. The new system aims to allow governments to tax the most profitable firms wherever they collect taxes, rather than allowing multinational corporations to wield one jurisdiction over another. And its minimum rate is 15. Campaigners say the 15% rate is too low. Biden proposed 21%. There are also concerns about how the G7 and developing countries’ resulting revenues will be distributed, and how long it will take to implement them. The chancellor, Rishi Sink, is reportedly seeking immunity from the new government for city firms. Nevertheless, G7 leaders will praise the agreement as the beginning of a new era of cooperation.
Aid and girls education
Ever since he was foreign secretary, Johnson has highlighted the importance of girls’ education, calling it the “Swiss Army Knife” that helps address other development issues. It will also be on display this weekend, but anti-poverty campaigners allege that they have temporarily targeted the government’s recent controversial decision to spend 0.7 percent of national income ۔ Labor has said it would like to see Johnson restore its commitment to the 0.7% target. Instead, the UK could put pressure on other nations to pledge to help promote girls’ schooling.
Discussions on the climate emergency will be more straightforward than in recent years for one, very basic reason: no Trump. One of Biden’s very first acts as president was to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, and Cornwall will not be dominated by the almost impossible earlier conundrum of achieving concrete results without alienating Trump’s administration.
“Easier than Trump” is, however, a low bar, and while climate action is billed as one of the central thrusts of this G7 summit, the danger is that with issues such as Covid, vaccines and corporation tax dominating, the only outcome is yet more bland words on an end-of-summit communique.
There are several climate-based protests planned to coincide with the summit, aimed at focusing the minds of leaders, but almost certainly kept at such a distance from the event that they can and will be ignored.
Nonetheless, for Johnson the stakes are relatively high, if largely in the medium term. The crucial Cop26 climate summit is being held in Glasgow in November, and the prime minister will want to build up a head of global policy steam moving towards this. As such, he will be under pressure to emerge from this weekend with something definite and agreed in policy terms, not just yet another restatement of the need to do something.
Johnson doesn’t want Brexit to be anywhere near the G7. In a recent profile for Atlantic magazine the prime minister insisted: “We’ve sucked that lemon dry.” But the Brexit minister, Lord Frost, will now travel to Cornwall, in a sign that No 10 has conceded it will be impossible to avoid the issue.
On Wednesday Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan reiterated the president’s “deep” concerns about the simmering row over the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol, warning about the risks of imperilling the peace process. Johnson is likely to come under intense pressure to make concessions, but he gave the pugnacious Frost his staunch backing on Wednesday, jokingly calling him “the greatest Frost since the Great Frost of 1709”.
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