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Group of Eight (G8)

The origins of the present Group of Eight (G8) leading industrialised democracies lie in the Economic Summit convened by President Valery Giscard d'Estaing of France at Rambouillet in November 1975. President Giscard and Chancellor Schmidt of Germany, themselves both former Finance Ministers, were keen to establish an informal forum to discuss world economic issues, building on the 'Library Group' of Finance Ministers from Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the US (named after their meetings in the White House library), which operated during the early 1970s. This original 'Group of Five' was joined by Italy, Canada and the President of the European Commission in 1976-77. This configuration became known as the Group of Seven (G7). Meetings followed a limited agenda of economic issues, and were intended as informal consultation sessions. 

During the 1980s these annual meetings, which each of the seven states hosted in turn, became more formalised. Communiqués, an agreed statement issued by all leaders at the conclusion of the Summit, became a standard feature, along with full media coverage. The agenda became broader with the advent of a new generation of leaders (President Reagan, President Mitterand, Chancellor Kohl, Prime Minister Thatcher), who were keen to discuss political issues alongside economics.

The G8 is an informal organisation, with no rules or permanent Secretariat staff. The Presidency rotates annually among the G7 members, with each in turn taking responsibility for organising the annual Summit. In addition to these, a variety of working and expert groups meet throughout the year to prepare specialised subjects. The G8 has no formal secretariat of its own for implementing action. Heads agree a communiqué issued at the conclusion of Summits, which commits each country to coordinate individual action towards common goals. G7/8 agreement can often act as a catalyst for action in other international fora.

Website of the Birmingham G8 Summit:


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