G8 – A Brief History

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The annual G8 summit is about to kick off on Monday, so I thought I would do a few educational/informational posts about the G8 in general and about this year’s meeting in particular. So this is the first one in a series, watch out for the rest in the coming days.

The G8 summit is held annually to gather eight world leaders in order to discuss current economic and political issues affecting their countries and the world.

G8 stands for the Group of 8, that is, the eight most prosperous countries of the world. Almost. To be more specific, G8=G7+1. Meaning the seven richest countries of the world + Russia.

To be even more specific the G7 countries are: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA.

The first summit was held in 1975 in Rambouillet, France with the above participants minus Canada. Canada joined the next year and from then the group was referred to as G7.

Since 1977’s London Summit the EU (then European Community) is a regular participant, now represented by both the President of the European Council and the President of the European Comission.

Russia earned a regular seat at the summit in small steps, although some still question whether it should be involved. Since 1994, the G7 met with Russia each year for talks excluding the economic and financial discussions – so these meetings were referred to as Political 8 (P8). The 1998 summit was the first one to welcome Russia as a full member, and since then we can talk about G8.

The host countries vary on a rotational basis in a previously agreed order. This year’s summit is hosted by the UK, and it is about to be held in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

This year’s participating leaders are as follows:

Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom

Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada

President Francois Hollande of France

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany

Prime Minister Enrico Letta of Italy

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan

President Barack Obama of the United States of America

President Vladimir Putin of Russia

President José Manuel Barroso of the European Comission

President Herman Von Rompuy of the European Council

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