Vaccine distribution to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, climate action and biodiversity, values-based multilateralism – a demanding agenda awaited the leading industrialised nations at their summit. At the close of their summit in Cornwall on Sunday, the G7 heads of state and government adopted a Leaders’ Communiqué. “It is fair to say that a clear commitment has been voiced to a rules-based multilateral world,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Group of 7 (G7) met at the weekend in Carbis Bay on the south-west coast of England. The G7 is an informal forum that brings together Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Canada and the USA. The EU is also represented at all meetings. South Korea, South Africa and Australia attended as guests, and India joined via a video link.
Day 1 – Health package for future pandemics
The first day was dedicated to overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. “We agreed that the pandemic can only be overcome at global level. And vaccines are the way out of the pandemic,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel. It was discussed in detail, she reported, that everyone must be ensured access to vaccines. The G7 states will make it possible to distribute 2.3 billion vaccine doses to developing countries by 2022.
Germany is involved in this on a significant scale; the country is the second largest donor to the COVAX vaccine alliance. This message is very important, said Angela Merkel. “It means that we are doing our bit and we will also donate a minimum of 30 million doses from the vaccines we ordered ourselves,” she added. It is also important to support global vaccine production, stated the Chancellor.
As a lesson from the COVID-19 crisis, the G7 states intend to put in place a health package that will ensure better preparedness for future pandemics. In the Carbis Bay Health Declaration, they make a number of health-policy pledges.
Day 2 – Offering a positive agenda
Economic and foreign-policy issues dominated the second day of the G7 summit, whose motto was “Build back Better”. “We know that in Africa, for instance, a huge amount of work is needed on infrastructure,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel. “It is in our interests that Africa’s economy develops properly.”
The G7 states launched a global initiative for infrastructure projects. They aim to offer poorer countries “values-based, high-quality, transparent partnerships – an alternative to China’s New Silk Road. China is using this to drive the expansion of the traffic and transport, trading and industrial infrastructure in numerous countries. Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined that G7 aims to offer a positive agenda to many countries in the world that still have ground to make up.
“Obviously, for the countries that need development only concrete projects count,” said the Chancellor. She hopes that concrete projects can be presented at the next G7 summit, which will be hosted by Germany.
Day 3 – Climate change mitigation and biodiversity
On Sunday the summit focused on climate change mitigation and biodiversity. “I am obviously happy that the United States of America has once again joined the Paris Agreement,” said Angela Merkel. That makes the work of the G7 in the field of climate action very much simpler, and perhaps this is also the symbolic message of this summit in Cornwall. “We want to take action, and we want to take action for a better world.”
The G7 states decided to conserve or protect a minimum of 30 per cent of the world’s land and oceans by 2030. Participating states also undertook to almost half their CO2 emissions by 2030, in comparison to 2010. On the sidelines of the G7 summit, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an agreement between the two states – a German-Australian hydrogen partnership. This is a lasting commitment to more cooperation in the fields of technological innovation, research and development and the introduction of technologies in order to build a global hydrogen industry.
Bilateral meetings at the summit
Between the working sessions, the Chancellor met US President Joe Biden at lunchtime on the second day of the summit. She said she was delighted to meet Joe Biden for the first time. His presence at the summit was important, she stressed, because he presented and represented a commitment to multilateralism.
The Chancellor also held bilateral talks with the summit host, Prime Minister Boris Johnson. One item on their agenda was relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Angela Merkel stressed the vital importance of good, thriving relations.
On Friday evening, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the other G7 heads of state and government met with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It was very moving to meet three generations of the Royal Family in a botanical garden that was symbolic of biodiversity, said Angela Merkel. The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge also attended