Scholarly Publications and Papers
Help | Free Search | Search by Year | Search by Country | Search by Issue (Subject) | G8 Centre

[Document Content]

The G-7 Agenda:Old and New Issues

Guido Garavoglia and Pier Carlo Padoan

The Evolution of the G-7 Discussion

In the course of its twenty-year history, the summit of the seven major industrial democracies (G-7) has changed considerably. Originally intended to deal with economic issues--indeed, it was long known as the "economic summit"--it soon became a political meeting, with the heads of state and government turning their attention to the major international issues of topical interest. The increasing importance given to political and security matters and the emergence in recent years of new, global issues have gradually transformed the agenda. A brief review of this evolution may help to provide a more precise understanding of the nature of the G-7 today. For greater clarity, economic, political and global issues will be dealt with separately, even if it is urged that these issues be examined in a joint perspective at the summits.

Economic policy issues

Over the years, the G-7 has examined a myriad of international economic policy issues. The list includes macroeconomic coordination and monetary relations, structural reforms, trade policy, agriculture, energy, the environment, foreign debt and North-South relations, and the problems raised by the collapse of the system of centrally-planned economies. The first of these, coordination of macroeconomic policies, has always been one of the main focusses of the summits.

The commitment to macroeconomic coordination has gone through a number of periods, which can be summarized as follows:

It is more difficult to order the other issues in a precise sequence, as they have come and gone in various periods. Some of the issues falling into this category are foreign debt in developing countries, which led to the Baker and Brady Plans in the mid-eighties; the energy problem, which spawned the G-7's attempt at collaboration with the International Energy Agency (IEA) to check the relationship between growth and energy consumption; the environmental question, which is among the most recent issues addressed by the G-7 and on which there is as yet no definite line of action; support for the transition to a market economy in the formerly centrally-planned countries. The latter has been a central issue at the summits since 1989.

Trade matters, on the other hand, have always received attention at the summits, especially at the beginning of the last decade, when strong payments imbalances accentuated the demand for protectionism in countries with deficits, in particular, the United States. The devaluation of the dollar which began in 1985 alleviated this tension to some degree, but it soon arose again and became perhaps even more intense during the Uruguay Round GATT negotiations.

Political issues

Although the summits were first established for economic reasons, political issues have always been discussed as well. Initially, this was done informally (over meals), but political discussion gradually became more structured and eventually took over an essential and in some cases preponderant part of the G-7 meetings.

During the first period of the summits (1975-1981), French opposition to the extension of confidential discussion on political and security issues to countries other than the four major Atlantic powers (France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States) was bolstered by Japan's traditional reluctance to take on explicitly commitments which it felt were the exclusive competence of the Atlantic Alliance. In the first four summits, therefore, final declarations contained no political statements (with the exception of the isolated document on hijacking issued at the 1978 Bonn Summit), even though American and German pressure had introduced discussion on non-economic matters, at least among the four countries mentioned above.

The deterioration in East-West relations determined by Soviet deployment of the SS-20s missiles induced Giscard, Schmidt, Carter and Callaghan to call a extraordinary summit restricted to the four powers, along the lines of the model advocated by the French, in Guadeloupe in January 1979.

The meeting (in which the "double-track" strategy on Euromissiles was conceived) was such a success that the participants would have preferred to continue to discuss strategic questions in a more restricted circle, but the protests of those excluded ruled out that possibility. As Putnam and Bayne put it,

The consequence of the Guadeloupe meeting was thus to give the remaining members of the seven-- Japan, Italy, and Canada--a strong incentive to develop the economic summit as a more formal and visible vehicle for political discussions, going beyond spontaneous exchanges over meals. This would ensure that they would not be excluded from high-level political discussion in future.(1)

Perhaps it was because it was monopolized by the second energy crisis or because the Japanese hosts were certainly not the most suited to promoting innovations in this field, but the next summit meeting, held in Tokyo, produced no more than a declaration on Indochinese refugees and another on hijacking, in which a positive opinion was expressed on the effects of the previous year's document. It was only with the 1980 Venice Summit following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that political issues were already contemplated in the preparatory stage and finally made their way onto the summit agenda and, as a consequence, into the final declarations.

During the second period of summits (1982-1988), non-economic issues took on an increasingly important role, despite Mitterrand's last-ditch attempt to oppose it at the 1982 Versailles Summit. In some cases they even overshadowed the agreements reached in the more traditional fields of economic and monetary policies. Emblematic in this respect was the 1983 Williamsburg "declaration on security" which even Japan signed, formally recognizing the globality and indivisibility of the concept of Western security for the first time.

In addition to deteriorating East-West relations, the progressive turnover in leadership in the member states may well have favored the growing importance of political issues in the early eighties: with the withdrawal of Schmidt--the last representative of the old guard from Rambouillet--none of the leaders present at the 1983 summit could boast experience at the heads of economic ministries (as most of the "founding fathers" could).

Throughout the history of the G-7, political discussions have largely been concentrated on topical international issues, zeroing in on this or that contingent problem. Examples of this trend are the numerous declarations on regional crises: Afghanistan and the hostages in Iran (1980); the Middle East, Lebanon, Kampuchea and Afghanistan (1981); Lebanon and the Falklands (1982); the Iran-Iraq conflict (1984 and 1987); the Middle East, South Africa and Kampuchea (1988); the Arab-Israeli conflict, China, South Africa, Central America, Panama, Kampuchea and Lebanon (1989); the Gulf war, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Middle East, Lebanon, Yugoslavia, South Africa (1991); the former Yugoslavia (1992 and 1993). The other subject to which the heads of state and government always dedicated a considerable amount of attention up to the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact was Western security, ever present in final declarations as of 1980 (with the exception of Versailles 1982).

Global issues

With the advent of the third septennial, the summit agenda began to diversify to new fields, thus expanding the traditional concepts of politics and security. The demise of strategic confrontation between East and West led the heads of state and government to concentrate their attention increasingly on issues of a global nature that have political and economic aspects which tend to intersect. These "transnational" and "transverse" characteristics of these issues make them particularly appropriate for joint high-level talks.

The most important and typical of these subjects in recent years has been relations with the nascent democracies in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union: informally as early as 1989 (with the decision to assist Poland and Hungary in their democratization processes) and regularly as of 1990, the problem of East-West relations has been examined from the broad perspective of peaceful transformation of the international order, rather than that of a military threat to Western security. This involves making available the means (chiefly economic) needed to favor those processes.

To deal with relations with Central and Eastern Europe, the 1989 Paris Summit established a special forum, the Group of 24 (G-24), charged with studying ways and means to provide technical and financial support to facilitate these countries' transition to a market economy. The EC Commission chairs the group, which is composed of the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and those of the former Warsaw Pact. The G-7 was also instrumental in establishing the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Economic assistance to Russia, both debt and emergency assistance, has been a central issue of all summits in the last four years. A permanent working group composed of high-ranking officials of the Seven plus the EC deals with this matter, and joint meetings of foreign and financial ministers were held with Russian counterparts in the months prior to the Tokyo and the Naples Summits. Relations with Russia were also strongly focussed on by the media, given Gorbachev and Yeltsin's meetings with summit participants.

Other subjects that have received the attention of national leaders in the most recent period are the environment (since 1986), drugs (since 1987), nuclear non-proliferation (since 1990) and the fight against terrorism (on and off since 1978). These transnational problems undoubtedly represent threats to the security and stability of the new world order and as such have found their way onto the summit agendas.

Institutional Consequences: the G-7 as a System

The multiplication of issues dealt with at the summits has had important consequences on the preparatory process and the structure of the G-7. A brief summary of these may help to explain the fields and the levels at which G-7 cooperation operates today.

In the early years, the G-7's institutional structure was relatively simple. The annual summit was the only existing body with this kind of membership. The preparatory process was essentially carried out by the sherpas--true personal representatives of the leaders (even though they were almost always high-ranking administrative officials)--who drew up the agenda on indications from the heads of state and government. For support for their talks, the Seven never went beyond setting up temporary working groups on matters of particular technical complexity. Otherwise, they relied on the assistance of existing international organizations (above all, the OECD, the IMF and the IEA). Final documents were rather short and reflected rather accurately the issues dealt with by the heads of state and government, although the tendency to increase the length and number of subjects was already evident.

With the disappearance of the original leaders and the inclusion of non-economic matters in the second period, the Seven started also to meet at the levels of ministers, deputy ministers and high- ranking officials. This trend has developed most intensely in the economic field. Since 1982, the Group on International Trade (the so-called Quadrilateral) has brought together the ministers of trade of the United States, Japan and Canada and the Trade Commissioner of the EC (given the EC's exclusive competence in that field) three to four times a year. In 1986, cooperation in economic and monetary policy was transferred to the G-7 finance ministers, who meet three to four times a year with the governors of the respective central banks (but interim preparatory meetings of deputy ministers and high- ranking officials are much more frequent). The fact that the European Union is not a part of this forum undermines its representativeness, yet the finance ministers have relieved the heads of state and government of many topics traditionally on their agenda during the first decade.

Cooperation is now also carried out at lower levels in sectors other than the traditional ones. Since 1984, foreign ministers have been meeting annually at the margins of the autumn session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Assistance to the former Soviet Union has been the subject of several meetings of foreign and finance ministers. During the Gulf war, the political directors of the foreign ministries held extraordinary meetings in addition to their regular meetings to prepare the political part of the summit agenda. The ministers of the environment met at the Rio Conference in June 1992 and in March 1994. Upon a proposal by Clinton taken up by the Tokyo Summit, the labor and finance ministers met in March 1994 to discuss the unemployment crisis. In addition, there are the many working and study groups set up over the years to provide technical support for the G-7's activity.

Unlike in the past, the G-7 is now a system, consisting of a complex of bodies acting at various political and administrative levels and in various fields, and sharing a common composition (the Seven plus the EU in some cases, and occasionally, upon invitation, third countries) and a common functional link to the annual summit of the heads of state and government.

Whatever the direction taken by institutional developments of the system (the establishment of a real international organization with a permanent structure or some other more flexible model), the G-7 is currently characterized by the following features:

Assessment of the G-7 as an Instrument of Economic Policy Coordination

The achievements of the G-7 are hard to assess for two reasons: first, it is often difficult to verify whether and to what extent the objectives set at the summit (by either the heads of state and government or the finance ministers) have been attained; and second, even when there is agreement that the objectives have been reached, consensus may be lacking as to whether that should be attributed wholly or in part to the action of the G-7.

Some examples may clarify these points. As regards the first, the 1978 Bonn Summit is generally considered the most successful meeting in defining a strategy of economic policy coordination aimed at relaunching the international economy in the throes of growing inflation and strong balance of payments imbalances. Yet the strategy was never implemented, basically because the participant governments did not respect the commitments taken on by the leaders.

An example of the second is that the inversion in the price of the dollar which began in 1985 started before the Plaza meeting in September of that year meaning that the G-5 did no more than ratify a market trend that was already under way.

These are only two examples, and a thorough assessment would require much closer analysis, but they provide a good indication of the G-7's capacity as a policy-making system, at least in the economic field (this assessment is even more difficult in the fields of politics and security, given the lack of a framework for institutionalized cooperation operating on a regular basis, such as the group of finance ministers).

In summary, the G-7's power lies in its ability to coordinate the economic policies of its member countries and therefore, to "internalize the positive externalities" generated by coordination. This coordination also provides clear guidelines for other economies and, therefore, for the entire international system. In the absence of such coordination, the pursuit of independent national economic policies would in most cases produce inferior results for the international system as a whole.

It must be underlined that the G-7 is the only international forum in which all global economic issues can be examined simultaneously; consequently, it is the only one in which a policy of coordination can be set up highlighting the interdependence and linkages between disputed areas (from the monetary to the trade and finance sectors . It is this characteristic which allows for the internalization of the externalities of interdependence of the global system, and which emphasizes the indissoluble links between the political and the economic aspects of the decisions taken at the highest level.

This characteristic also evidences what may be called "the G-7 paradox": even if the apparent effectiveness of the G-7 is declining, its disappearance would cause serious damage to the international system in that it would be perceived as the loss of a unique element in the international system's management process, triggering destabilizing reactions, unpredictable in both extension and scope.

Seen in this light, the G-7 has a specific capability for action. This capability cannot, however, be based on any kind of coercive action towards the other member states and necessarily relies on mutual commitments to the pursuit of concerted policies. But only if they are credible can these commitments guide the expectations of market operators and, through them, the behavior of the markets themselves. From this point of view, the G-7 is most effective when it establishes new "institutions", both formal (such as the EBRD) and informal (such as the agreements on monitoring of exchange markets), which introduce new regulatory mechanisms into the international system.

An attempt can now be made to reconsider the initial statement made concerning dissatisfaction with the G-7 and the widespread feeling that, in its present configuration, it is no longer capable of having a significant effect on the behavior of the international system. The need for change is obvious, but the kind of change needed must still be decided upon.

Two factors may be useful in evaluating the G-7's actual ability to affect the international system: the evolution of the international system in the last two decades and the logic of collective action which determines the behavior of a body like the G-7.

The evolution of the international system

Since the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system in the early seventies, the international system has progressively abandoned the former hegemonic structure and taken on a multipolar configuration. This process has gone through the following stages in which the G-7 has played different roles.

From this brief description, it appears that the G-7 alternates between periods of strength and weakness as a guide for the international economic system. Actually, the alternation can be interpreted as the propensity of the G-7 governments to seek cooperative solutions to the problems of management of the international economic system. Thus, the reasons for such alternation must be understood.

The logic behind G-7 collective action

The behavior of the G-7 may be interpreted in light of the theory of joint action in a context of cooperation without leadership, that is, in the absence of any one actor (country) able to manage the international system unilaterally.

The function of a body like the G-7, as stated previously, is to provide the international system with a public good consisting of a framework for cooperation, without which the unilateral choices of the individual countries would lead the system to less than optimal results. Four conditions are needed for the production of public goods (i.e. a system of cooperation) in the absence of leadership:

An examination of the history of the G-7 reveals that some of the above conditions have, in fact, been met. Certainly the first one (the small number of actors) holds, though it has not prevented cases of "defection" which have on some occasions amounted to free riding and on others to forms of bilateral rather than joint multilateral choices (an example is the Structural Impediments Initiative pursued by the United States to force Japan to open up more to foreign trade).

The second condition (the long-term perspective) is implicit in the permanent nature of the G-7 system. It may be argued, however, that the timespan is rarely precisely defined and has contributed to weakening the credibility of commitments.

Non-fulfillment of the fourth condition (the confidence-building mechanism) is the one most frequently lamented. It is widely felt that apart from the action of the individual heads of state and government participating in the summits, G-7 activity must be made more continuous in order to consolidate reciprocal knowledge and activate strategies that can learn from past experience.

The third condition (willingness to change national preferences) is the most problematic. A country's preferences in international negotiating fora reflect mediation between the government and the interest groups providing the government with consensus. This creates what Putnam has defined as a "two-level game".(2) Setting up cooperative policies requires agreement between representatives of the various countries (level I policy) and consensus within each country for the policy that the government has decided to pursue with the others (level II policy). The two policy levels interact. If one or more governments do not obtain consensus within their country, the agreement among governments may fail (level II policy affects level I). On the other hand, international agreements may be used by governments to reach particular objectives within their countries (level I policy affects level II).

Without going into further detail about these mechanisms, it seems that the G-7's periods of strength and weakness have coincided with the prevalence of level I and level II policies, respectively, in government decisions. In other words, there are distinct limits, beyond which the objectives of international cooperation cannot push the logic of domestic politics. In addition, the tendency towards "cooperation" or "conflictuality" among countries is often a cumulative phenomenon: when the cooperative mechanism produces evident advantages perceived as such, the obstacles resulting from domestic opposition are more easily overcome, as people are convinced that pursuing cooperation will increase the benefits for all participants (i.e. the "absolute" advantages of international relations prevail). Conversely, when participation in collective actions is perceived as a constraint on the country's potential action, the preference for defection (which may take the form of bilateral strategies and/or free riding) is accentuated and the country's attention is focussed on "relative" advantages (a typical example, which is representative of the current situation, is the burgeoning demand for protection, or the opposition to liberalization when the macroeconomic conditions deteriorate in terms of growth and employment).

It is widely acknowledged that the G-7 is presently going through a period of weakness (and with it all the fora and institutions set up to manage the international system). This weakness manifests itself in the form of disagreement on the following matters:

Crisis Management or Long-term Cooperation?

The existence of a G-7 system makes it easier to provide a rational answer to the question of whether the G-7 should essentially have an international crisis management function or whether it should be the outstanding forum for long-term cooperation among the major Western countries.

The initial objective of the summits, as envisaged by Giscard and Schmidt, was to create an arena at the highest decision-making level and with the least possible formality in which to discuss important macroeconomic and monetary policy options. It was also intended as a way of getting out of the impasse in which existing international organizations found themselves. The Western economic system was going through a crisis, so discussion at the summit revolved around economic matters. When the threat to Western security increased at the end of the seventies, the heads of state and government decided to put political issues officially onto the summit agenda. With the demise of the bipolar world order, the main problems to solve changed once again and the summit meetings have registered that change.

Seen in this perspective, the summits have always serious crises such as the monetary and energy crises in the early seventies, the second energy crisis in 1978-79, the crisis in East-West relations in the early eighties, the crisis of the former communist countries at the end of the eighties and the more recent crisis in trade negotiations.

This statement should not come as a surprise. A body at the highest decision making level cannot but address the main challenges to the system which it represents. Furthermore, the flexible structure of the summit and the turnover in the leaders participating in it makes it possible to establish and reassess priorities with a facility unknown to existing international intergovernmental organizations.

Does this mean that the G-7's crisis management function must necessarily be alternative to its long- term cooperation function? Perhaps the problem should be posed in different terms. As already stated, the G-7 is now a multi-level system, a system in which both of the functions mentioned above coexist. But what parts of it should deal with these functions?

It is not difficult to say what the annual summit cannot do: it cannot deal with both the preparatory and the negotiating stages of the cooperation process. This task must be assigned to the new fora existing within the system, avoiding, wherever possible, greater bureaucratization of the system itself. In particular, macroeconomic coordination should be entirely delegated to the finance ministers. The heads of state and government should concentrate their attention on a few issues chosen for their strategic importance or because of the need to make decisive political decisions if international cooperation (within and outside of the G-7) is stalled or unable to come up with an agreement. They may also indicate new priorities if necessary.

The summit should maximize the potential offered by a meeting of heads of state and government-- the only persons able to mediate between domestic and international requirements, between the political and economic aspects of the matters discussed.

If the sherpas were to return to their original role of real personal representatives of the heads of state and government, they could be charged with selecting the subjects to be discussed at the summit. In any case, more direct involvement of the leaders in the preparation of the agenda would be welcome.

The problem remains of how the summit is to deal with sudden, unexpected crises, once priorities have already been established. It is unrealistic to think that heads of state and government should not discuss emergency situations, though this is not their primary function. A way must be found to ensure time for discussion of last-minute issues without upsetting the agenda. The easiest way to do this, especially with regard to political crises, is by the well-proven method of informal discussion over meals. But in case of particularly serious crises, the summit could also be prolonged (allowing a half day for further discussion). If a crisis arises in the months immediately following the summit (e.g. the 1987 stock market crisis, the invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the attempted coup in the USSR in August 1991 and the events in Russia in August 1993), ad hoc ministerial meetings could be called. Extraordinary meetings of the heads of state and government should be reserved strictly for exceptional situations.

Economic Summits or Political Summits?: No Longer a Dilemma

Should the evolution of the summit and its enlargement to political issues be judged positively, or would it be better to return to the original model in which economic issues formed the core of discussion?

Consolidated practice makes the road towards greater opening seem irreversible. Of all the members, only the French continue their formal opposition to the inclusion of non-economic matters on the agenda (though it is not clear how determined they are).

The following are the main arguments in support of the present trend:

While it seems futile to entertain ideas of a return to the past model of an exclusively economic summit, the question of whether it is desirable and in the best interests of the participating countries to structure political cooperation among the Seven along the lines of economic cooperation deserves careful evaluation. This aspect is dealt with in more detail in the article by de Guttry in this collection, but it should be mentioned here that any increased bureaucratization of G-7 structure in non-economic matters (in particular in the form of institutionalized meetings of the foreign and defence ministers) requires cautious assessment, if only for the negative repercussions that such a development could have on the other fora for political and security discussion that already meet periodically at various levels (NATO, UN Security Council, CSCE).

More scrupulous preparation and follow-up of the non-economic issues discussed at the annual summits could be achieved using the issue-oriented approach, which would not involve further bureaucratization of the system. Calling ministerial level meetings on certain subjects (such as relations with the former communist countries or the safety of nuclear power plants) does not necessarily imply the institutionalization of the G-7 ministers of foreign affairs, the environment, etc. The summit could also promote the establishment of temporary structures charged with specific tasks, such as the task forces on laundering money set up at the l990 Houston Summit, or permanent structures, if international bodies are lacking in sectors considered of primary importance (this was the case of the EBRD).

The Summit Agenda

The progressive broadening of the range of subjects discussed at the summits has accentuated the problem of selectivity. In fact, it is impossible for the heads of state and government to deal with even the most important international questions of the moment in a reasonably thorough way in the two or three days of a summit. Indeed, the gap between the nominal agenda (which is reflected in the final documents) and the real agenda (which means the subjects really discussed by the leaders) has never been so wide as in recent years. To say that a certain issue has been "dealt with" at the summit does not necessarily mean that it has been examined by the heads of state and government; it may have been considered by the foreign or finance ministers who meet at the same time, or even simply by the sherpas during preparation of the final documents.

If the annual G-7 summit is not to become the top forum of a new and strongly structured international organization, as some would wish,(4) there is no reason for the leaders to deal with a large number of standard topics at each summit. It would be much more logical for them to examine a few issues (no more than two or three) considered fundamental at that time.

Those issues, however, should be adequately prepared. In fact, the leaders' repeatedly expressed wishes for greater informality at the summit do not necessarily have to translate into abolition of the agenda: they could be satisfied simply by cutting back on the presence of the national apparatuses, allowing for greater frankness in discussion. Of course, the participants must be able to discuss other matters of contingent interest, if they wish--time must be set aside for that purpose--but the summit should not be seen merely as a brainstorming session for the leaders of the major Western powers. Informality must not be considered an end in itself; it must be functional to the achievement of the summit's objectives (which include reaching consensus on subjects considered of primary importance). The fact that the session dedicated to informal discussion at the Tokyo Summit closed early for a lack of topics should provide food for thought.

Only one final document should be issued at the end of the summit and it should integrate economic and political aspects as much as possible. Furthermore, it should reflect the matters actually discussed by the leaders. This means that it would be much shorter than current communiqués, facilitating immediate public understanding of the matters discussed, as people would no longer have to extrapolate meanings from wordy, all-embracing texts. If the non-decisional nature of the summit is to be underlined, this could be done by a less demanding "summary by the chairman" illustrating the main points on which the heads of state and government reached agreement.

Issues for Future Summits

It is, of course, difficult to hypothesize what subjects will be the focus of the talks of the heads of state and government in the nineties. Given the flexible nature of these meetings, which favors changes in the agenda as priorities evolve, this would mean hazarding predictions which events could easily prove wrong. Who could have imagined as the second period of summits was drawing to a close (1988), that the next years' meetings would be dedicated largely to solution of the dramatic crises of the former enemies in the East? Nevertheless, it may be useful to list some issues which may merit attention in the near future.

International cooperation in the nineties will call for what is known as "management of integration processes". The accelerating trend toward regional agreements--after the vote on NAFTA and the intensified cooperation among countries in the Pacific region--could actually produce greater conflictuality, rather than greater cooperation among the large industrialized areas, especially if some parties try to exploit the change in bargaining power offered by regional relations. This inevitably leads to issue-linkage which could have a positive effect on problem-solving, but which could also have a negative effect by increasing the possibility of crossed vetoes. In such a situation, only the highest level of consultation among industrialized countries can provide a solution.

Despite all its shortcomings, the positive conclusion of the Uruguay Round seems to attenuate the risks of growing regionalization in world trade, at least for the time being. What can be expected is a resumption of the process of multilateralization of trade in parallel to the development of regional integration. But this would only increase, rather than decrease, the need for management of the international economy: it has to be sufficiently flexible to be able to integrate the countries that have chosen transition towards a market economy and democratization.

In light of these considerations, the following are the main subjects that may still be on the agenda in the future:

Emerging topics which could find their way onto the agenda in the future include:

These priorities are evidently strategic for the future welfare and stability not only of the West, but of the entire international system emerging after the decline of the bipolar order. However, time will also have to be allotted to the examination of regional crises, which will surely be a constant feature in the years to come.

The list would not be complete without mention of the increasingly serious problem of unemployment in most industrialized countries. The recent Detroit meeting of G-7 finance and labor ministers dedicated exclusively to this issue was concluded by the US Treasury Secretary, who urged greater integration between micro and macroeconomic politics, deferring further decisions in the matter to the coming Naples Summit. It should be noted, however, that although unemployment is a widespread phenomenon, both its causes and its remedies have distinctive features in each country and in each region. These features are both structural and institutional, suggesting that the kind of action that the G-7 can take against unemployment is indirect, working through the macroeconomic and trade policy initiatives it supports. Finally, the G-7 can effectively coordinate the structural initiatives to be undertaken at the regional level, such as the recent White Paper prepared by the European Commission.

(1) R. Putnam, N. Bayne, Hanging Together. The Seven Power Summits (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984), p. 112.

(2) R. D. Putnam, "Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-level Games", International Organizations, vol.42, no. 3, Summer 1988, pp. 427-60.

(3) Atlantic Council of United States, Summit Meetings and Collective Leadership in the 1980's (Washington: Atlantic Council of United States, 1980), p. 39.

(4) See the Group of Thirty, The Summit Process and Collective Security.- Future Responsibility Sharing; A Study Group Report (Washington: Group of Thirty, 1991); G. John Ikenberry, "Salvaging the G-7", Foreign Affairs, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 132-9.

Source: The International Spectator, 29, No. 2 (April/June 1994), Special Issue, pp. 49-65. Copyright ©, Istituto Affari Internazionali. Reproduced by permission of the author and Istituto Affari Internazionali.

G8 Centre
This Information System is provided by the University of Toronto Library and the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto.
Please send comments to:
This page was last updated .

All contents copyright © 1995-99. University of Toronto unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.