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G7 Leaders Leave Digital Issues to the G20

Jennifer Jeffs, G7 Research Group
June 15, 2021

When the G7 digital and technology ministers met virtually on April 28, 2021, they reiterated their strong support for industry-led, inclusive, multi-stakeholder approaches to developing technical standards. They agreed that it is essential that the development of digital technical standards continues to be underpinned by transparency, openness of process and participation, relevance and consensus-based decision making in line with core principles for standards development.

The ministers made it quite clear that they had decided to place the needs of open, democratic societies at the centre of the technology debate and to work together toward a trusted, values-driven digital ecosystem to enhance prosperity in ways that are sustainable, inclusive and human-centric. They also affirmed their opposition to any measures that undermine those democratic values, such as government-imposed internet shutdowns and network restrictions.

On June 9, on the eve of the G7 summit in Cornwall, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau participated in a virtual conversation during the opening session of the 2021 Progressive Governance Digital Summit. He spoke alongside Olaf Scholz, Germany's vice-chancellor and minister of finance, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Danish prime minister, and Francesca Bria, president of the Italian National Innovation Fund. Trudeau stressed that universal, secure, and affordable connectivity is a fundamental enabler for both the digital economy and sustainable development. Bria pointed out that it is also a fundamental catalyst for inclusive innovation and economic growth. Both Scholz and Trudeau acknowledged the importance of trustworthy cross-border data flows. Trudeau closed by agreeing with Thorning-Schmidt on the importance of recognizing the significance of secure data for international development purposes and goals.

At Cornwall, the focus of the G7 leaders on the collective recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic indicated that the recovery should aim to "build back a better, more productive and resilient global economy, with digital technology at its heart," as their ministers declared in April. As the leaders' communiqué affirmed, the G7 members will make it a strategic priority to update regulatory frameworks and ensure that digital ecosystems evolve in ways that reflect their shared values. With Mario Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank and current prime minister of Italy – which holds the 2021 presidency of the G20 and will host the summit in Rome in October, the world can anticipate that fintech and regtech will likely be more prominent themes at that meeting than the recent G7 ones, which necessarily focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic recovery from it.

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