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France's G7 Priorities for 2018/19

John Kirton, Director, G7 Research Group
March 21, 2018

Well before Canada had assumed the G7 chair for its year as host in 2018, France had started to prepare its approach and priorities for the G7 Charlevoix Summit on June 8-9, 2018, and indeed for its own year as G7 host in 2019. This was hardly surprising for the country that had launched G7 summitry at Rambouillet in November 1975 and whose current president, Emmanuel Macron, was bringing new energy and innovation to international institutions in Europe and the world. Although many adjustments will come as the two summits approach, France is likely to build its G7 contribution on the firm foundation described below.

France begins by noting that the established G7 summit is now governing alongside the newer G20 one. It sees a division of labour, with the G7 focused more on peace and security, reflecting the fact that three of its members also Permanent Five members of the United Nations Security Council. It also sees the G7 still having a significant role to play on Africa and on development. Although the G20 is also involved here, Africa should remain priority for the G7. A more recent, valuable addition to the G7 agenda is the natural environment and climate change control. This is not only to support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) but also to advance climate change control in other ways.

France has three priorities for 2018 and prospectively for 2019. The first is climate change. It believes that all countries must combat climate change. It sees this as the main challenge for humanity as a whole.

The second priority is human development. This should be done in a comprehensive way to support development as a whole. This priority includes education, particularly the replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education. France is pressuring all G7 members to support this replenishment process. Other aspects of human development are gender equality and other gender-related issues.

The third priority is the set of peace, security and safety issues centred on Syria, terrorism and migration. Migration is also rooted in underdevelopment, especially in the region of the Middle East and North Africa.

France is proud of two particular contributions it has made to G7 and G20 governance in the recent past. The first is the Deauville Partnership. In 2011, at the start of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, the G7 collectively thought that it needed to support the change. The Deauville Partnership sought to have not only G8 countries (including Russia) involved but also Gulf countries and then international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in order to put a comprehensive policy in place. Now, six years later, it is time to evaluate the results. The Deauville Partnership has brought good coordination and some funding, but to move forward the policy must now change.

The second contribution was through the G20. France's G20 presidency, which culminated in the Cannes Summit in November 2011, was about levelling the playing field. The G20 had been established after financial crisis. The question of levelling the playing field, especially across western countries in trade, social and environmental issues as well as financial ones, was critical. The G20 has been an adequate forum for helping China adhere to the global rules, established by the IMF and others, and for giving them a bigger place at the table at IMF and the World Bank. The G20 has been advancing those goals, especially in regard to China and levelling the playing field for environmental and social standards.

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John KirtonJohn Kirton is director of the G7 Research Group, and co-director of the G20 Research Group, the Global Health Diplomacy Program and the BRICS Research Group, all based at Trinity College at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. He is also a Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at China's Renmin University. A professor of political science, he teaches global governance and international relations and Canadian foreign policy. His most recent books include Accountability for Effectiveness in Global Governance, co-edited with Marina Larionova (Routledge 2018), China's G20 Leadership (Routledge, 2016), G20 Governance for a Globalized World (Ashgate, 2012) and (with Ella Kokotsis), The Global Governance of Climate Change: G7, G20 and UN Leadership (Ashgate, 2015), as well as The G8-G20 Relationship in Global Governance, co-edited with Marina Larionova (Ashgate, 2015), and Moving Health Sovereignty in Africa: Disease, Govenance, Climate Change, co-edted with Andrew F. Cooper, Franklyn Lisk and Hany Besada (Ashgate, 2014). Kirton is also co-editor of several publications on the G7/8, the G20 and the BRICS published by Newsdesk Media.

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