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G7 Summit: Macron’s Urbi et Orbi Message

The G7 is not an indispensable body. It’s just another “time check”, a comparison of agendas so that the nations may convince each other that the ways to overcome all the challenges and threats that each of the parties offers are the most promising, writes Evgenia Obichkina, professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Overcoming inequality will be the chief focus on the agenda of the forthcoming G7 summit. This issue was proposed by Emmanuel Macron, and it is addressed not only to the world, but also to the city – that is, to the French public. The summit is taking place in anticipation of the so-called rentrée politique, the political new year that opens on September 1. Everyone returns from vacation – including the president and the government. This new political year will be very difficult for Macron, because he needs to carry out a number of very serious reforms, especially pension reform, as well as the partial privatisation of some state-owned enterprises. All this runs the risk of greatly igniting French public opinion and could lead to something similar to the “yellow vests” protests. Everyone expects that a single spark could be enough to fire up a new wave of popular protests. 

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With such unpredictable characters as Boris Johnson and Donald Trump attending, drama within the meeting halls cannot be ruled out. In the event that all passes off quietly and according to plan, it will not only be President Macron who will sigh with relief.
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Therefore, overcoming the inequality between wealth and poverty, between countries and within societies is very important not only for the world, but also for France in connection with the consequences of the protracted economic crisis. Moreover, this unusually hot summer in Europe, replete with fires and disasters, has largely confirmed the need for urgent measures to overcome anthropogenic climate change, and to protect the environment. Since the days of Nicolas Sarkozy, France has been focusing its agenda on environmental protection – and this, like the broad humanitarian agenda, distinguishes the current summit.

Of course, crises will also be on the agenda. These include the Syrian crisis and the Iranian problem – and here we see quite substantial differences, primarily between France and the United States. Trump on his Twitter disavowed Macron’s statement on Iran, accusing the French president of short-sightedness. The friction will be very serious – as well as the friction over the rules of international trade, because other members of the G7 cannot welcome Trump’s “America First” position. 

Therefore, the summit will not be easy, it is unlikely to lead to any decisions that will be immediately implemented. But the G7 is not an imperative body. It’s just another “time check”, a comparison of agendas to convince each other that the ways to overcome all the challenges and threats that each of the parties offers are the most promising. This is a hidden influence, designed for a very long time perspective. It is a hidden act – it changes the attitude of the ruling circles towards the field of problems and the political agenda. That is the main meaning of the G7.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.