G7: what it is, when it was born, how it works and which are the member countries

The G7 is the intergovernmental organization of the seven major world economic powers of advanced countries. It meets periodically to discuss issues of global concern. The members are France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom. Also invited to the annual meetings are a delegation from the European Union, which is not part of the rotating presidency, and, in the framework of the so-called outreach activities, other countries outside the G7, especially developing countries. Civil society is a key interlocutor of the current G7 presidencies.

When was it born and what does G7 mean

The acronym G7 indicates the “group” of the seven “great” economic powers of the world. “G” actually stands for “Group”. It was the then president of France Valéry Giscard d’Estaing who wanted the establishment of this summit in 1975, who invited the leaders of the Federal Republic of Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, the United States and Japan to Rambouillet for discuss the 1973-1974 oil crisis. Initially the participants were therefore six. Later Canada joined. From 1998 to 2014 the G7 transformed into the G8, with the same members plus Russia. But after the cooling of relations due to the annexation of Crimea, we returned to the original formula of the G7, without Moscow.

The structure and presidency of the G7

The group of 7 foresees a rotating presidency among the members: the fixed sequence that is respected is the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada, France. The task of the presidency on duty is to propose the group’s priorities, coordinate activities among the members, take care of the publication and dissemination of documents, organize meetings. The G7 does not have a secretary or a permanent structure, as it is not an international organization. The decisions taken by the Group are not binding, although they considerably influence the policies of the members and of the other States of the world.

The meetings of the G7

There are different formats in which the members of the group can meet: the most important meetings take place between the heads of state and government, in the so-called ‘summit’, and are held once a year. On this occasion, economic and financial, development and political and security issues are discussed, as well as other issues on the agenda, such as energy and climate change at the moment. The other meetings, which take place more frequently, are the meetings and consultations between the ministers of the economy and the governors of the central banks.

The G7 and the Sherpa figure

The G7 discusses economic and financial, development and political and security issues as well as other issues on the agenda, such as energy and climate change at the moment. The three institutional figures following the preparatory work for the summit are the “Sherpa”, the “Political Director” (PD) and the “Foreign Affairs Sous-Sherpa” (FASS). The Sherpa is the representative staff for the G7 of the Head of State or Government for all the thematic areas that make up the agenda of the Summit’s work. He is responsible for everything that precedes the meeting of the 7 and oversees the negotiation for the drafting of the final Communiqué.

Political Director and Sous-Sherpa

The Political Director is a high-ranking representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responsible for foreign policy and security issues, while the foreign Sous-Sherpas are responsible for transversal issues, such as the environment, economic-social aspects and development . It is the Ministry of Economy and Finance that deals with the economic and financial issues of the Summit agenda.