G8

The Group of Seven (G7, formerly G8) is a governmental forum of leading advanced economies in the world. It was originally formed by six leading industrial countries and subsequently extended with two additional members, one of which, Russia, is suspended. Since 2014, the G8 in effect comprises seven nations and the European Union as the eighth member. The forum originated with a 1975 summit hosted by France that brought together representatives of six governments: France, West Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, thus leading to the name Group of Six or G6. The summit became known as the Group of Seven or G7 in 1976 with the addition of Canada. The G7 is composed of the seven wealthiest developed countries on earth (by national net wealth or by GDP), and it remained active even during the period of the G8. Russia was added to the group from 1998 to 2014, which then became known as the G8. The European Union was represented within the G8 since the 1980s but could not host or chair summits. The 40th summit was the first time the European Union was able to host and chair a summit. “G8” can refer to the member states in aggregate or to the annual summit meeting of the G8 heads of government. The former term, G6, is now frequently applied to the six most populous countries within the European Union. G8 ministers also meet throughout the year, such as the G7 finance ministers (who meet four times a year), G8 foreign ministers, or G8 environment ministers. Collectively, in 2012 the G8 nations composed 50.1 percent of 2012 global nominal GDP and 40.9 percent of global GDP (PPP). Each calendar year the responsibility of hosting the G8 is rotated through the member states in the following order: France, United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada. The holder of the presidency sets the agenda, hosts the summit for that year, and determines which ministerial meetings will take place. Both France and the United Kingdom have expressed a desire to expand the group to include five developing countries, referred to as the Outreach Five (O5) or the Plus Five: Brazil (7th country in the world by nominal GDP,) People’s Republic of China (2nd country in the world by GDP,) India (10th country in the world by GDP,) Mexico, and South Africa. These countries have participated as guests in meetings that are sometimes called G8+5. With the G-20 major economies growing in stature since the 2008 Washington summit, world leaders from the group announced at their Pittsburgh summit on September 25, 2009, that the group would replace the G8 as the main economic council of wealthy nations. Today, G8 meetings are held with the purpose of discussing global issues such as economic growth, crisis management, global security, energy, and terrorism without the governments of the developing nations, who have their own major forum (BRICS). On March 24, 2014, the original G7 nations voted to, in effect, suspend Russia from the organization in response to the country’s annexation of Crimea; however, it was made clear that the suspension was temporary. Later on, the Italian Foreign Affairs minister Federica Mogherini and other Italian authorities, along with the EastWest Institute board member Wolfgang Ischinger, suggested that Russia may restore its membership in the group, adding that the return to the G8 format depends on Moscow and on Russian actions.