They call it G7, it was a G8: The European Union in Taormina

External Relations

When the most industrialized countries gather together in order to discuss political and economic developments, they do it under the Group of 7 (G7) framework – after the exclusion of the Russian Federation from the former G8 format.

During recent summits, the two EU’s top leaders – currently European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker -, typically take part to the Group’s session. EU’s participation is justified by the vast size of its single economic market, affecting lives of some 500 million people.

On the other hand, EU leaders play the role of intermediaries, representing the interests and preoccupations of smaller countries which are under pressure but not represented in the G7 format. In particular, Estonia has to deal with the Russian aggressiveness, Cyprus is managing its Turkish issues towards an improbable composition of the controversy, and Malta, the little island surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and the tonnes of problems related to migrant flows.

In a broader sense, EU leaders represent the last knights of multilateralism against the rising of limited partnerships and elitist agreements throughout the international community. In addition, a number of the discussions held during the Summit touch relevant issues of interest to the European Union. For example, even if the “bigs” are sitting around the table, they cannot dispose variations to their trade policies, because Trade, in particular, is an exclusive competence of the European Union.

Whereas the big Seven were particularly vocal about terrorism, gender equality, cybersecurity, environmental strategies and trade, they were not able to overshadow the two EU leaders, a relatively silent presence while representing a strong and stable sovra-national block.

As far as the single countries are concerned, likewise Prime Minister May stressed the UK’s commitment to free trade and the fight against the climate change, the other leaders immediately endorsed this negotiating line – in particular Italy and Canada. In contrast with this common enthusiasm, an oblivious President Trump took his time on these special two issues. In fact, he needs to uphold his reputation in front of the American voters, and keep those promises of dismantle what the Obama legacy did in these two directions.

Tusk and Juncker used the G7 platform to push the EU’s fundamental priorities, which include the very idea of multilateralism itself.

“We will stand up here — as we are always doing — for our shared values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights,” Juncker said. In addition, he stated “We do believe as Europeans in open societies and we are always seeking multilateral solutions.” POLITICO reports.

Taormina, the Sicilian jewel that hosted the Summit, even though it welcomed guests with marvelous colors, relaxing fragrances, and soothing views, it could not avoid frictions between those seven political leaders.

In the aftermath of the G7, Chancellor Merkel spoke volumes about the United States and the need for the EU to act independently from its historic partner in the international arena. Skirmishes between Berlin and Washington continued with President Trump twitting that even if Germany has a commercial surplus on the US, Berlin still does not want to pay its part to the NATO security system, concluding that, anyway, with Trump all of this lack of cooperation is going to disappear.

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