The G7 and G20 in the global governance landscape

The G7 and G20 in the global governance landscape

The G7 and G20 in the global governance landscapeCreator: Heinrich Boell Foundation. Creative Commons License LogoThis image is licensed under Creative Commons License.

The Group of Seven (G7) and the Group of Twenty (G20) are informal governance clubs, which hold annual Summits of Heads of State to discuss issues of global importance. 

The G7 is a more homogenous, intimate group, which has been meeting for decades. It is a subset – a club in the club - of the newer and more diverse G20, which represents the emerging multi-polar world order. (Another smaller club in the G20 club is the BRICS, an alliance of emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.)

The agendas of the two clubs overlap, with the G7 generally engaging in more political and security-related issues than the G20, which primarily focuses on global economic and finance governance.

In 2017, the presidencies of the G7 and G20 Summits are held by Italy and Germany, respectively.

1. Sequence of G7/G8 and G20 Presidencies

The following timeline juxtaposes the past and future G7 and G20 presidencies:
Creator: Heinrich Boell Foundation. Creative Commons License LogoThis image is licensed under Creative Commons License.

2. Membership

  • The G7 is comprised of industrialized, democratic member countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Japan, and Germany. The Group, which first met as the G6 in 1975 to address the oil crisis and recession, were united in their opposition to the Soviet Union and the larger Eastern bloc. Canada and Russia joined in 1976 and 1998, respectively. Following the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, the G7 nations suspended Russia’s membership.
  • The G20 is comprised of the G7 countries, twelve countries of growing global economic and political importance, plus the European Union (EU).  In 1999, it was launched at the level of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors and, then, in 2008, at the Heads of State level.

Whereas the EU, which comprises 28 countries, is a full member of the G20, it is only a participant in the G7.  

After Britain’s decision to exit from the EU, questions about the future of the EU will be significant in the context of the Italian G7 presidency and the German G20 presidency in 2017.

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This article is part of our dossier "G20 in Focus".

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