The Group of Eight (G8) refers to the group of eight highly industrialized nations that hold a summit.
The G8 summit is an annual meeting between leaders from eight of the most powerful countries in the world.
The aim is to try to foster consensus on global issues like economic growth and crisis management, global security, energy, and terrorism.
The leaders of the countries meet every year in a different member country.
The G8 is represented by the governments of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The G8 comprises its six charter members, in addition to Canada, which joined in 1976, and Russia, which became a fully participating member by 1998.
The EU is a “nonenumerated” ninth member; represented by the presidents of the European Council and European Commission, the EU participates as an equal.
While there are no formal criteria for membership, member states are expected to be democracies and have highly developed economies.
The G8, unlike the United Nations, is not a formal institution, and there is no charter or secretariat.
The presidency, a position responsible for planning ministerial meetings and the annual summit, rotates among the member states.
What’s the history behind the G8?
During the early 1970s, the United States held a series of informal meetings with financial officials from the United Kingdom, West Germany, Japan, and France to discuss economic challenges facing advanced industrial economies.
It was formed because of big worldwide money troubles in the early 1970s, which prompted the US to form something called the library group, a meeting of senior financial officials from Europe, Japan, and the U.S.
In 1975, heads of governments became involved and they agreed to meet every year.
French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing invited the heads of state and government from these countries and Italy to Rambouillet, France for a summit to discuss the oil crisis and economic recovery.
That meeting – the first G6 Summit – released in a fifteen point declaration and agreed to hold an annual summit under a rotating presidency among the members.
The following year, Canada was invited to join the group for a summit in Puerto Rico under the presidency of the United States, forming the Group of Seven (G7) in 1976.
In 1977, the President of the European Commission was invited to attend the meeting. The President of the European Council now regularly attends as well.
Russia began to engage in separate meetings with G7 leaders in 1994 and formally joined the group in 1997 at the invitation of U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The group then became the Group of Eight (G8).
What happens at the G8?
The G8 summit is a busy schedule of meetings, statements, and photographs for the press.
On the second day of the summit, leaders gather for an informal talk without lots of officials or the media.
In the past leaders have discussed issues such as peace in the Middle East, aid for the developing world, and how to stop terrorism.
The G8 members can agree on plans and set objectives but they can’t force anyone to agree with them.
However, the wealth and power of the G8 members mean they are often listened to by other countries.
How long does the summit last for?
The G8 summit lasts for two days.