G7 Summit: Biden and Johnson relish being the good guys of the world. But bonhomie can be tested by harsh reality
For generations, British holidaymakers have flocked to the country’s most southwestern tip for its relaxing and restorative charm. The traditional calm will be shattered this week, however, as the leaders of the world’s richest democracies meet for the first time in nearly two years to address the problems of our planet – primarily global warming and the Covid-19 pandemic.
For Prime Ministers, Presidents and their assistants, no summer recuperation awaits in Cornwall, although they all expect to leave with the belief that they have done good for us all, and to the way they like best: around a table – – not a computer screen. Last year’s G7, which was scheduled to take place in the United States, was canceled due to the pandemic.
Summit host British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden are eager to claim their credentials as the good guys of the world. Everyone brings their own bag of needs; Johnson wants a global Britain and to be Biden’s best friend, who in turn wants everyone’s support against China.
The other participants also have their own agenda, of course. German Chancellor Angela Merkel appreciates American leadership, but not as much as she once did. French President Emmanuel Macron wants support in the Sahel region in Africa. Japan’s Yoshihide Suga shares many of Biden’s concerns about China and relies heavily on his allies to help the Olympics. Italian Mario Draghi will look to the G7 to support stability in Libya and control of Mediterranean migration routes. Canadian Justin Trudeau will likely wear a wry smile, remembering the 2018 G7 he hosted and the chaos caused when then-US President Donald Trump refused to endorse the final joint communiqué.
Yet by the time the leaders arrive in this hilly English idyll, much of the script for this G7 and its final communiqué will already be written. A big final step came just days ago when G7 finance ministers agreed to back Biden’s push for a 15% global minimum tax on corporate profits. This does not mean that everything at the top is preordered; Trump was an object lesson in how nothing can be taken for granted.
In February, leaders met for a virtual G7 shortly after Biden came to power. They set general goals to “work together to defeat Covid-19 and rebuild better” as well as “accelerate the development and deployment of vaccines globally”. They also pledged to “put our global ambitions on climate change and reversing biodiversity loss at the center of our plans.”
Since then, many more have appeared in the world. Belarus forced a civilian airliner to land, after which a Belarusian opposition journalist on board was arrested along with his Russian girlfriend.
Russia, whether intentionally or unintentionally, harbors ransomware attackers who recently crippled US pipelines. The United States ultimately decided to withdraw its military forces from Afghanistan, prompting similar exits from allies.
Tehran is almost out of steam to negotiate Washington’s return to the Iran nuclear deal and has tested the credulity of the global nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, a hair’s breadth from breaking point.
And most worrying for Biden, China’s flexing of muscles – the fighters and bombers flying around Taiwan, as well as its self-confidence in the South China Sea – has become increasingly daring.
It should come as no surprise then that Biden, while not hosting this year’s summit, was keen to share the G7 seat, in which Johnson has been a seemingly willing partner in inviting key Indo partners -pacifics of the United States – India, South Korea, Australia – at the G7.
The move received a welcome nod at the G7 Foreign Minister’s meeting in London last month. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised the UK, thanking his counterpart Dominic Raab for “your leadership in building an incredibly strong program”.
Johnson is particularly in need of that support right now, amid post-Brexit wrangling over Northern Ireland’s trade rules with the EU and Ireland; so far, Biden leans towards the Irish.
The two are planning their first face-to-face meeting Thursday before the arrival of the other G7 leaders, Downing Street announcing a renewed “Atlantic Charter”, refreshing the one agreed between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941.
Johnson hopes, of course, to bask in the spotlight. The British Prime Minister plans to boost the UK’s global credibility, calling on the G7 to help fund women’s education in developing countries, set ambitious targets for the global deployment of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2022 and to call for an environmentally friendly post-environment. pandemic economic reconstruction.
He hopes a rebellion by some of his own MPs in London to challenge his government’s cuts to the UK’s foreign aid budget, from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5%, will materialize not and will not pierce the generous personality he plans to project in Cornwall. .
Biden, meanwhile, wants consensus and support in holding China to account on human rights and other violations, and plans to speak out against former G8 member Russia on cyberespionage.
But despite the myriad of other topics, Covid-19 will never be far from the minds of leaders. Intense security protocols tested at G7 foreign ministers’ meetings in May will be in effect – rules so strict that India’s foreign minister ended up participating in the last two sessions remotely following a possible close encounter of coronavirus.
Away from the site, safety is also a priority: Navy warships patrol the Cornish coast, beaches have been closed and thousands of police officers from across the UK have been recruited to cordon off the area and prevent protesters from entering.
The Carbis Bay G7 is a chance for the UK to shine. So far the weather is playing its part, with sun and heat – at least by UK standards – forecast for the weekend. Biarritz and Taormina no, but the stakes of this summit are much higher.