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The Italian G7 Presidency

  • Rome
  • 18 October 2023

        Italy will be taking over the G7 presidency in January 2024 at a moment of profound geopolitical change and uncertainty. The very structure of globalization is much less stable than it was just a few years ago, with increasing instances of competitiveness that can at times be conflictual and protectionist. This can, in turn, disturb relations between major international markets and political institutions that are, by their very nature, subject to both domestic and regional pressures.

        Despite many internal contradictions and their inability to offer a viable alternative to established rules and standards, emerging entities such as the “enlarged” BRICS and the so-called “Global South” – antagonistic vis à vis OECD countries and major international agencies – are worthy of note. 

        This developing scenario should also be kept in mind with regard to the G7 and role Italy’s role as president. The influence and centrality of this forum for consultation and coordination had been waning in over the years when the situation took a sudden turn with Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine; an event that coincided with the G20’s relative, and possibly temporary, loss of status. The G7 today acts as a sort of “control room” for efforts to defend the West’s rule-based international system – a system always open to improvement and adaptation but whose underlying principles remain intact.  

        Italy will be presiding over a restricted forum that, nevertheless, is capable of conditioning and shaping the global framework, both in terms of emergency short-term measures as well as broader medium- to long-term approaches. 

        The Russia/Ukraine question remains pivotal, especially from the standpoint of the country’s future reconstruction and gradual integration into European and transatlantic institutions.

        Much attention will be dedicated to China, which poses the greatest systemic challenge to the global order in all its various dimensions. There is no choice but to co-exist with Beijing, but in ways that differ from the past, and without the illusion of transforming the People’s Republic into a sort of “socio-democratic democracy”. Indeed, “de-risking” appears to offer the best response to Chinese attempts at “economic coercion”. 

        Under way, and primarily in Africa, is a form of competition/counter-positioning between East and West, the features of which are nevertheless more circumscribed than those of the twentieth century Cold War. An essential task for Italy is to get that continent back on the EU agenda, encouraging European efforts to play a more proactive role there.

        A relatively new theme will be how best to manage the technical aspects and economic, ethical, social and political implications of artificial intelligence. The issue has major structural relevance in terms of global relations, to which partially linked developments in biotechnologies, microprocessors and quantum physics must be added.

        Other dossiers on the G7 table will include climate, food security, health and women’s conditions. All themes that have a significant effect on many populations of the global South since they also go into the mix when it comes to policies on sustainable, balanced and inclusive development.

        In any case, a strong US/EU axis is vital on all issues, especially in the sphere of efforts to prevent technological/trade tensions from interfering with solid cooperation and the better pre-coordination of major undertakings.

        Meeting participants raised various questions about the structurally limited and exclusive nature of the G7, especially in light of the urgent need for broad-based international consensus and funding for large scale multilateral projects, as well as the uncertain evolution of global economic growth. Over all, much appreciation was expressed for the forum’s role as informal consultant and possible coordinator of market democracies capable of accomplishing the extensive diplomatic preparation of summit meetings heavily influenced by the current political, economic and security scenario. Italy will have an opportunity to reinforce its international profile in a setting that remains one of the many pieces of a complicated global puzzle.