G8 summitry involves the promotion of economic diplomacy or the task of reconciling a country's economic policies with its foreign policy, through contact with external actors . The G8 summits, first established in 1975 in Rambouillet under the G7 appellation, regrouped leaders of seven industrialized and leading countries: France, the United States, Germany, Britain, Japan, Italy and Canada (1976). They were later joined by the Presidency of the EEC from 1977, and then Russia in 1997 . The aim was to reconcile international and national economic pressures, through the political leadership of the heads of states. This would result in the establishment of collective management of economic international affairs . “The end of the Cold War converted interdependence into globalization, a current embracing the entire world. This forced the summit members into a learning process and reoriented their concerns outwards, so that they did less for themselves and more for the international system.” These words form part of the introduction to the major study of G8 summitry Hanging in There, by the G8 specialist Bayne. One can wonder here whether acting for the “international system” is possible for the heads of states? Whether economic rationality can surpass the national interest they represent through their function as head of state? To answer this question I will consider the processes of agenda setting, decision making of G8 summits, and finally the possible outcomes. To illustrate the statements I will make, I have chosen to concentrate on two recent G8 summits: Cologne in 1999, and Saint Petersburg in 2006. They both offer insight into the mechanisms of G8 summitry, presenting different economic issues: financial architecture, debt relief and social awareness in the former and the energy crisis in the latter, in the context of Russia's initiative to integrate the World Trade Organisation.
Agenda setting for G8 summits corresponds to the need to answer certain economic priorities. Traditionally six major areas of G8 attention have been: the international economic situation, trade problems, East / West trade, relations with developing countries, energy and monetary problems . These echo the economic “spirit” established by the founding Rambouillet summit. Despite the increasing presence of non-economic issues, such as environmental norms or counter-terrorism , in recent summits, the accent has been reset on economic matters because of temporary crises as for example the Asian Crisis of 1997/1998 and structural problems such as the third world debt crisis which has impeded development in poor countries, and notably African ones. In terms of economic action, the G8 process has been described alternatively as a “fire brigade” in times of crisis and as a “framework for economic policy” to assure long term stability. The agenda must thus take into account not only recent crises that have emerged, but also longer term structural issues. Setting the agenda for the G8 summits is placed in the hands of the president of the G8, a function which rotates every year. This democratic rotation system is essential, as setting the agenda represents a clear advantage for the country assuming presidency. Certain interests, priorities can be pushed forward on the international scene by member countries, as was seen for example during the Okinawa 2000 Summit in Japan which emphasized the issue of information technology and the digital divide between rich and poor countries, especially relevant to Japan which is a leading power in the world of technology . I will now concentrate on the issues of the Cologne and St Petersburg summits, to illustrate the importance of context in establishing the G8 summit agenda, both in terms of crises and need for structural adjustments. In the case of the Koln Summit of 1999 two main economic problems seemed logical issues for the G8 summit, one of an immediate nature: financial stability after the Asian Crisis and the other more pervasive and continuous: debt sustainability. The Asian crisis of 1997-1999 led to currency crises not only in Asian countries: the crisis also spread to other important economic actors such as Brazil and Russia , menacing the fragile financial equilibrium of the international economy. As early as 1999, the G7 countries had set up a Financial Stability Forum, to enhance dialogue between member countries and exchange ideas regarding solutions to the crisis. Regarding the colossal task of helping indebted countries, the G8 acted upon the 1996 Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative . After recognizing that developing countries accumulated an external debt of 2095 billion American dollars in 1996 , the Western community fought for debt relief through loans from institutions such as the IMF or the World Bank. The aim of the summit was to “reinforce the [HIPC]initiative so as to enhance the prospects for a robust and lasting exit for qualifying countries from recurrent debt problems.” Linked to the problem of debt in developing countries are other economic problems such as important inequalities between countries and within them. The “New Cologne Consensus” represented a clear illustration of the growing concern for the negative consequences of globalization by an increasingly present civil society. The growing importance of civil society protest represented an important factor in determining the issues to be debated. One of the most famous groups advocating the end of debt pressure and a fairer deal for poor countries with globalization, was Jubilee 2000 . The Cologne Summit thus reflects the importance of three factors in determining the summit agenda: economic crisis, follow up of previous projects, and civil society pressure. The 2006 St-Petersburg summit is a clear illustration of reaction to crisis, and the advantages of hosting the summit. Indeed, one of the major topics of the summit was debate about energy supplies, a concern amplified by the Middle East crisis. The importance of this debate was borne out by events over the month of August 2006, when the price of crude oil went up from 65 dollars per barrel to 75 dollars per barrel . This price hike reveals the importance of the oil crisis and its consequences on all other forms of energy. The choice of this theme on the agenda by host leader Vladimir Putin is not a coincidence. Gazprom, a Russian state controlled company which actually furnishes Europe with a quarter of its gas supplies, is the world's largest gas producer . Russia also holds a leading position in the production of metals, and chemicals, thus having strong interest implications in the energy debate. Furthermore the first G8 summit to be held in Russia began in a tense atmosphere, as Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization was under scrutiny, and the subject of different debates. This was notably discussed around bilateral meetings, a feature of G8 meetings which has gained great importance . The choice of a bilateral meeting between American President G. W. Bush and Russian leader two days prior to the summit had deep strategic implications, as it enabled the two powers to measure each other's positions concerning important themes of the G8 summit such as energy, as well as more national concerns on the Russian side such as entry in the WTO . Setting the agenda represents a diplomatic exercise for the president country member. It must strike a balance between different crisis and structural issues, and answer various pressures: from domestic priorities as well as international civil society groups. Having established how economic issues are decided upon in the context of G8 summitry, I will now attempt to determine the mechanisms behind decision making. As mentioned previously, the main aim of economic diplomacy is to coordinate national policies to serve the international economic system. We will see however that such an aim faces several challenges which undermine the rationality of decisions in economic summits such as the G7/8. The exercise for the head of state and his “sherpas”, i.e the personal representatives of government leaders and representatives from the foreign and finance ministry, is to serve both national and international interests . The need to comply with these two, at times contradicting levels has been developed by Robert Putnam in his theory on the “Two level Game” . Whereas domestic pressure and the need for domestic support push leaders constantly to consider the interests of their domestic constituents, this must not determine their foreign policy, which is based especially in the case of economic diplomacy, on compromise. As expressed by the German finance Minister Gerhardt Stoltenberg: “The limit of expanded cooperation lies in the fact that we are democracies and we need to secure electoral majorities at home.” State sovereignty is consequently not only undermined by the need to accept certain losses to preserve international cohesion, it is also subjected to domestic forces from group pressure. The example of the Common Agricultural Policy is often cited as an economically irrational and inefficient policy, which only survives because of European pressure groups. Indeed, the European initiative which strongly supports European agriculture against international competition and prices, causes international tension because of the inequalities it causes on the agricultural market . We will now see how this fragile equilibrium between national interest and international pressure manifests itself in G8 summits. Concerning the financial crisis dealt with at the Cologne Summit, the agreements achieved stemmed more from the coordination of national policy than from a policy of international action. With globalization, the risk of “contagion” of other countries, when a financial crisis arises, is greatly increased. The main actor in preventing these situations remains the state, and national policies should be the ones to guarantee protection. As expressed by the scholars J. B. Donges and P. Tillmann “Stability begins at home” . The concept of “good governance” can be mentioned as the principle of responsibility incumbent on national governments to adopt a rational economic policy, and to prevent its failure . There were however some projects for a new “international financial architecture” with stronger participation not only from the IMF, but also the private sector. Regarding the issue of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries 'HIPCs', the decisions taken by the leaders were soon baptized “The Cologne Debt Initiative”, the aim of which was “faster, broader and deeper debt relief”. However this help would be conditional, and dependent on IMF support. The financing of this initiative would be assumed by interest income, the IMF through the sale of 10 million ounces of gold, and assistance from multilateral development banks . Tony Blair especially insisted on the participation of the private sector in bearing the burden . Finally concerning the issue of the Cologne Consensus to develop social protection in globalization, section V of the Summit Communiqué entitled “Strengthening Social Safeguards” reflected the importance of a growing social conscience. Here again the IMF and International Financial Institutions were called upon to cooperate with the World Trade Organization (the WTO) in order to develop practices that “ensure the protection of the most vulnerable.” In these cases we have proof of possible cooperation amongst members of the G8, on issues of coordination of national policies, projects affecting the rest of the world: the Debt initiative, and answers to pressure groups, which indiscriminately affect all G8 members. We will now see the limits of cooperation in decision making in the G8 with the St-Petersburg summit. The controversial issue of energy supply had stronger and more direct implications for the country members, and thus made cooperation more difficult to achieve than in Cologne. In the first part of the essay, the interests of Russia on the question were clearly established. Faced with the menace of rising prices of energy supply, the main concern of Europe was to diversify its energy furnishers and sources of energy. This has led to major tensions around the Nabucco pipeline project. This Europe-backed 3,300 kilometer long project would link the Caspian Sea gas supplies to Europe through Turkey , and thus offer an alternative to Russian supplied gas. However, the Blue Stream pipeline, conjointly built by Gaz prom and Italian group ENI, could be extended in order to counter this challenge. Although it is now used to supply gas to Turkey, Russia's energy giant could extend the pipeline to Hungary . There is clear competition on the energy market. This rivalry has revealed itself in the G8's incapacity to compromise on the Energy Charter Treaty. Trying to incite Russia to ratify the treaty, the President of the European Commission Barroso tried to obtain a binding energy agreement in vain . The transit protocol, promoting competitiveness and transit on a non-discriminatory basis , poses a threat to the Gazprom monopoly, which Russia wishes to maintain. Concerning decision making we have seen through the examples of the Cologne Summit and the St Petersburg, the importance of national interest in the process. When concerning issues of international stability and limited intrusion in domestic affairs such as cooperation in stability promises or statements to the IFM, cooperation seems achievable. The issue of energy supply, and the challenge to state controlled energy giant Gazprom have however shown the limits of negotiation.
“Assessments of the contribution of any individual G7/8 Summit have classically rested on judgments regarding the Summit's performance on its core function of reaching timely, well tailored, ambitious, concrete, and often comprehensive agreements to coordinate policy in regard to the major issues faced by the G8 and the international community.” Although the aim of the G8 is essentially to stimulate debate, one can further evaluate the efficiency of the G8 by measuring the actual impact of these debates. I will now discuss the outcomes of the G8 summits, both in coordinating national economic policies, and in taking international initiatives to impact on the economic system. One can first question the influence of the G8 considering it consists of a forum with no rules of ratification. As expressed by the scholar Nicholas Bayne “The summit became an institution, but not an organization” and thus there were no implementation processes established. Although game theory insists that the temptation to defect in the case of repeated encounter between actors, such as the annual G8 summit, is limited, there always subsists a risk of state independent action: this would represent a risk for the rest of the community . The non- respect of G8 initiatives can result from a voluntary decision not to apply recommendations, but it can also be due to the failure of a government to execute them . This represents an especially relevant hypothesis considering the tendency of governments to use international economic policy coordination to impose economically sound, but unpopular measures. The use of international pressure as a scapegoat has offered political legitimacy for certain decisions . This was the case for example in Japan in when the Ministry of Trade and Industry used the argument of US pressure to overcome the resistance of the Ministry of Finance for more “domestic stimulus” after the Bonn accord in 1985. According to the Ministry of Finance international demands were met due to “70% foreign pressure, 30% internal politics.” Implantation of a policy depends on national governments and their interest in executing a decision. Having determined the weaknesses of G8 policy implementation, it is now interesting to concentrate on the Cologne Summit, and determine which decisions get implemented and which ones don't. In the case of financial stability a major outcome of the G8 summit was the establishment of a new forum which would become the G20, officially defined as “An informal forum that promotes open and constructive discussion between industrial and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability” . The inclusion of developing countries in debates of an economic nature, reflected the demands of civil society pressure groups for more representation in leaders' summits. Another issue strongly publicized was the debt initiative. The aim was to rapidly provide HIPCs with funds to reduce their debts, we will see however that results in that domain were not flagrant. First, the strong conditionality of debt relief meant the process was slow and no country was able to fulfill these conditions. Furthermore, the issue of summit decision application is here relevant, as the USA did not provide a sufficient amount of money for the debt relief burden . The outcomes of the Cologne summit thus seem mitigated. On the one hand, the promotion of further debate through G20 may be considered a success; concerning debt relief however, the lack of follow-up rapidly disillusioned civil society, which had so strongly fought for major powers to concentrate on the issue. Furthermore the work on social sensitivity was strongly criticized as it presented the damages of globalization as “a perception to be managed rather than as an objective reality to be changed.” The commitment of G8 countries to resolve these issues, that do not affect them directly, albeit through pressure from civil society, can consequently be challenged. Here the limits of dialogue and debate are seen, as, although cooperation at the summit was achieved, this did not evolve into concrete action. Although summit decisions can accelerate bureaucratic processes, they cannot replace this process and their efficiency relies upon their ability to guarantee the bureaucratic process will follow. The St Petersburg Summit offers an opportunity to study the outcomes of a summit, where no agreement has been reached. The economic tensions around energy described previously had strong consequences in the diplomatic field. The bitter words from Dmitri Trenin illustrate the Russian/Western tensions: “Nor should the West be banking on a historical shortcut: no democratic, pro-western, tsar will suddenly emerge from some color revolution to hitch Russia to the US-EU wagon” . It suggests the road to cooperation will be long. This has been confirmed by actions that have fed the tensions. One example would be the law established two days after the St Petersburg Summit by Putin, which legally enclosed Gazprom's monopoly position in gas transit, thus clearly in opposition with the European Energy Treaty which Russia refuted, and the joint declaration for more competition in the domain of energy . This in turn has led to strong reactions in the West, as for example the wish by US presidential candidate senator McCain to build future G8 summits without Russia, and declaring “We need a new Western approach to this revanchist Russia.” Furthermore Russian accession to WTO retarded both by the EU and the US further severed the relations between Russian and the West. Here the notion of “economic diplomacy” seems to transform itself in “economic statecraft” defined as “the use of economic tools and relationships to achieve foreign policy objectives.” The priorities have been rifled. From the conception of economic policy as a form of compromise, to its use as a means of coercion, the logic of the summit itself has been made obsolete. The choice of issues to be debated depends not only on emerging crises and structural failures, it also relies on consideration of pressure groups, notably civil society, and the hosting country's vision of foreign policy priorities. The comparison between the Cologne and the St-Petersburg summits at the decision stage clearly reflects the importance of national considerations. Consensus was easily reached in Cologne on debates such as policy coordination, promises for debt relief and support for sustainable development, which all had little direct impact on the different national economic policies. On the other hand, the St Petersburg summit revealed the limits of international cooperation, when delicate subjects such as energy supply were mentioned. This concern about G8 efficiency can also be reinforced with the study of the outcomes of these summits. Because of the lack of an enforcing institution, certain easily accepted decisions from the Cologne Summit were not followed by action, when it was not in the interest of a government to respect them. In the case of St Petersburg, the clash of interests seems to have undermined the principle of economic diplomacy. Through the evaluation of different stages of G8 summits, we have come to the conclusion that national interest not only remains an objective in G8 summits, its presence can also undermine the efficiency of the debates.
Books : -Barston, R. P. Modern diplomacy (London : Longman, 1988 (repr. 1991) . -Bayne, N Hanging in There, (Aldershot : Ashgate, 2001 (repr. 2000) - N. Bayne and S. Woolcock, (Eds.) The new economic diplomacy : decision-making and negotiation in international economic relations (Aldershot ; Burlington, VT : Ashgate, 2003 (repr. 2005). - M. Hodges, J. Kirton, and J. Daniels (Eds.) The G8's role in the new millennium (Aldershot : Ashgate, 1999.) -J. Kirton, J. Daniels and A. Freytag, (Eds.) Guiding global order : G8 governance in the twenty-first century (Aldershot : Ashgate, 2001 (repr. 2004) -S. Smith, A. Hadfield, T. Dunne (Eds.) Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases (Oxford University Press, 2008.)
Articles and essays: - I. Bourne, editorial “Russian Resurgence”, Argus Gas Connection, 3rd August 2006 - P. Hajnal and J. Kirton, "The Evolving Role and Agenda of the G7/G8: A North American Perspective," NIRA Review 7:2 (Spring 2000) -J. McCain “An Enduring Peace Built on Freedom, Securing America's Future” Foreign Affairs , 86:6 (November/December 2007) -R. Putnam 'Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games”, International Organization, Vol.42, Summer 1998, pp.427-460 -D. Trenin “Russia leaves the West”, in Foreign Affairs, No.4 Vol.85, (July/August 2006).
Websites: Official documents: - Chair's Summary, Heiligendamm, June 8, 2007 http://www.g8.utoronto.ca/summit/2007heiligendamm/g8-2007-summary.html - Report of G7 Finance Ministers on the Köln Debt Initiative to the Köln Economic Summit Cologne, Germany, 18 - 20 June , 1999 http://www.g8.utoronto.ca/finance/fm061899.htm - G7 Statement June 18, 1999, http://www.g7.utoronto.ca/summit/1999koln/g7statement_june18.htm - http://www.g20.org/G20 Online news: - J. Madslien, Russian energy giants bring global clout, Friday, (7 July 2006, 07:44 GMT) BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/5120360.stm - Russian WTO bid falters at summit, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5182442.stm - European energy security, A bear at the throat, (Apr 12th 2007) From The Economist print edition: http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9009041 - Gazprom says ready to look at Nabucco pipeline project (11 February 2008, 19:01 CET) http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/1202750221.31/ - FINAL ACT OF THE ENERGY CHARTER CONFERENCE WITH RESPECT TO THE ENERGY CHARTER PROTOCOL ON TRANSIT, (31st October 2003) http://www.encharter.org/fileadmin/user_upload/document/CC251.pdf