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The G8-G20 Roles and Relationship Essay

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The 68-620 Roles and Relationship John Kirton Director, 68 Research Group; Co-director, 620 Research Group john. [email protected] ca Paper prepared for a panel on “The Future of the 68 and 620 – Possible Scenarios” at an expert seminar on “The Future of the 68 and 620,” sponsored by the Universiteit Gent and Egmont, Fondation Universitaire/universitaire Stichting, Brussels, April 26, 2010. Version of May 13, 2010.

Introduction Now that the Group of Twenty (620) summit has arisen as the self-proclaimed permanent, premier forum for international economic governance, a lively debate as erupted about its relationship with the old Group of Eight (68) and the role of both bodies in the years ahead. Many assume or argue that the 68 will and should fade away, fast, and the 620 assume all the broad agenda and functions the former has long had.

Far fewer assert openly that that the new and diverse 620 may itself fade away along with the galvanizing economic crisis that gave it birth, leaving the 68 with its inner Group of Seven (67) finance ministers to continue as the global steering group that counts. Given the durability of international institutions, it is more likely hat both, rather than either or neither, will continue for the foreseeable future, in a relationship that could take several forms.

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The major possibilities are competition, passive mutual coexistence by dividing up the global policy agenda and governance functions, or active cooperation that brings the comparative advantage of each to reap the global governance synergies that await (Kirton 2009). After less than two years of 620 summitry, it is still too soon to conclude with complete confidence which scenario will spring to life. But there is already substantial evidence to suggest that he system is moving toward synergistic cooperation between the two G’s that will strengthen each and both in the medium term.

The global demand for governance is pulling the system in that direction and the old 68 great powers and new G20-only systemically significant ones are starting to supply that demand by working together in this way. However, its realization will take smart, strategic leadership from the 68 and G20’s coming hosts and chairs, starting with Canada in June 2010. And if they provide it properly, in the longer term, the 68 and its 620 creation could become one, nited above all by the values that the G8 has successfully pioneered since its start.

The Strengthening Success of the 68 and 620 Summits The prospect that both the 68 and 620 summits will continue rests in the first instance on the fact that few international institutions, even informal plurilateral, globally-relevant summit-level ones, tend to fade away. As Appendix A exhibits, many such institutions show impressive longevity, dating back a century or more. The 68, born in 1975, is one of the oldest such bodies of global relevance and reach. After 36 years in operation, it is unlikely to disappear soon.

Kirton: The G8-G20 Roles and Relationship Moreover, as Appendix B indicates, the G8 shows a substantial and strengthening performance over these years on all six dominant dimensions of governance which such bodies are expected to perform. It has an improving and now respectable record in delivering its commitments, by having its members comply with them within the year after they are made. It has also become, from its summit centre, a full-strength governance system, with a broad array of G8-centred bodies at the ministerial, official and civil society levels below. There are no signs that it is a global overnance system on the wane.

The 620, in its first two years of summit life, also shows signs of strengthening, even if it is still far less potent in its performance than the 68 has become. The 620 has beaten the 68 in the frequency of its summit meetings ” having had five scheduled within its first two calendar years. Yet, as Appendix C shows, on all six dimensions of global governance, the 620 remains far behind the 68. 620 summits last about half as long as 68 ones, generate only one- third as many decisional commitments, and have a compliance record that, while still n the positive range, is well behind that of the 68 and of the 68 members within the 620 itself.

The future demand for global governance thus seems likely to be met by both bodies, rather than either or neither. In the case of the latter scenario, it is striking how the successful MEF/M-16 that arose as a core component of the last two 68 summits has disappeared from the 2010 one, even with the failure of the UN’s Copenhagen COPMOP to effectively deal with climate change. The traditional preference of France and a few others for a 613 is voiced far less frequently now, ven as France’s turn to host both the 68 and 620 summits in 2011 draws near.

The group of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC), now having had two summits, remain largely members of both the 620 and G8 and have expressed support for the 620 itself. Shaping the G8-G20 Relationship If both bodies seem likely to continue and even strengthen, then given their high similarity in membership/participation, top tier plurilateralism, informality, summit centricity and global governance orientation, they will increasingly need to define and develop the relationship between the two. In the realm of competition there have been few substantial signs of rivalry.

There is an ongoing desire on the part of several, largely Asian members that 620 summits precede 68 ones each year, to avoid any impression that the old 68 club is pre-defining or dictating to the newer, broader 620 one. But here the 67/8 has prevailed, in holding its June 2010 summit before the 620 one, in holding the 67 finance ministers meeting in late April 2010 just before the 620 one at the semi-annual Bank-Fund meetings in Washington, and thus far for 2011 in France, having the 68 summit in its normal summer slot receding the 620 in newly normal (for leaders but not finance ministers) November one.

There has been only minor competition over issues each wish to take up, with a Sherpa-level tussle over which group will speak about the Haitian earthquake on January 12, 2010, serving as the major case to date. 2 Passive mutual coexistence is more evident, especially in dividing up the global policy agenda so that the 620 governs finance and economics and the 68 social, political and security issues. It is striking how easily the 68 in 2010, if not in 2009 has abandoned its finance and economic agenda in favour of the 620.

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