Looking Forward to the 2019 G7 Biarritz Summit
Julia Tops and Angela Min Yi Hou, G7 Research Group
July 3, 2018
On June 9, 2018, French president Emmanuel Macron hosted a press conference in La Malbaie at the conclusion of the G7 Charlevoix Summit. Succeeding Canada as the next G7 president, France will host the 2019 summit in Biarritz on the Atlantic coast. In addition to announcing France's plans for next year, President Macron suggested promising prospects for the forthcoming French presidency. The Charlevoix Summit reflected France's emerging role as one of the strongest champions of the current liberal international order, particularly in light of U.S. president Donald Trump's subsequent post-Charlevoix tweet indicating a unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the G7's consensus communiqué. On issues such as trade and sustainable development, among others, French leadership at Biarritz will likely continue the legacy of Charlevoix on several of its priorities and expand France's active stance in global governance.
First, Macron publicly commended and committed to Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau's cross-cutting approach to action on gender (see, for example, G7 Canada: The 2018 Charlevoix Summit). The Charlevoix Summit produced a range of ambitious gender-based commitments, including providing quality education for girls in developing countries and conflict zones and also ending gender-based harassment in digital contexts. France has already pledged to support many of these commitments.
Second, the Canadian presidency's focus on climate change and the environment will also be reaffirmed in France's 2019 presidency. Beyond the G7, France's role in initiatives such as the One Planet conference and the Paris Agreement are testament to its noteworthy leadership in global environmental governance. Climate commitments are both a national and an international priority for France. In fact, Macron mentioned that Biarritz was selected as the summit's next destination partially because of its relevance to the next summit's agenda priorities. As a coastal city, Biarritz's geography echoes Trudeau's focus (and now Macron's projected focus) on marine sustainability and plastics in the oceans. Furthermore, Macron is prepared to address the challenges of summit management, particularly to negotiating with the current U.S. administration on climate change. Through his participation in the G20 Hamburg and G7 Taormina summits, Macron witnessed Trump's denunciation of the Paris Agreement, subsequently leading to a 6-1 or 19-1 split on environmental issues in both summit institutions. Thus, Macron's summit experiences and policy stances have prepared him to take the action needed to face both climate change and tough G7 counterparts.
Third, despite the popular media controversy surrounding trade at the Charlevoix Summit, Macron's address at the news conference alluded to his determination to forge a united front on issues of free trade and anti-protectionism, among both European counterparts and all G7 members. Macron voiced his staunch support for an integrated international order underpinned by the rules and regulations of the World Trade Organization. He emphasized the importance of rejecting inward-facing inclinations in trade and combatting issues such as intellectual property theft and other market-distorting measures. Such emphasis can be expected to recur in next year's summit.
By continuing to mainstream gender, reaffirm coordinated action on climate change and oceans, and uphold a rules-based trade order, France will build on and further facilitate the significant successes of the 2018 Charlevoix summit. With gender accounting for 29% of all commitments at Charlevoix and the environment accounting for 23% according to analysis by the G7 Research Group, Macron committed to reinforcing these key Charlevoix pillars, in addition to France's own priorities yet to be announced. Most important, Macron's position at the concluding press conference demonstrated his understanding and firm belief in open international cooperation, pragmatic government action and implementation of the promises made at G7 summits. His emphasis on monitoring the progress of summit commitments coincides with the mandate of the G7 Research Group. Our work serves to provide accountability and transparency on the summit process year after year. We look forward to progress in compliance as France inherits the torch from Canada's effective leadership in 2018.
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Julia Tops is the incoming co-chair of summit studies with the G7 Research Group. She is a fourth-year student doing a double major in international relations and contemporary Asian studies at the University of Toronto. She joined the G7 and G20 Research Groups in her first year of studies and has since served as a compliance analyst, lead analyst and compliance director. Her research interests focus on gender and employment issues, in addition to her other interests in development and international law.
Angela Min Yi Hou is incoming co-chair of summit studies with the G7 Research Group, a compliance director with the G20 Research Group and the editor of the BRICS Research Group. She is entering her fourth year of undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, pursuing a double major in international relations and contemporary Asian Studies. Angela's academic interests focus on China's role in global governance and international institutions. She was a member of the field teams at the G20 summit in Hamburg in Germany in 2017, the G7 summit in Charlevoix in Canada in 2018, and the (upcoming) BRICS summit in Johannesburg in South Africa in 2018.
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