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The Apulia G7 Summit – effective multilateralism or the last of its kind?

Multilateralism & global issues / EPC FLASH ANALYSIS
Riccardo Bosticco

Date: 18/06/2024

Apulia G7 Summit on June 13-15 confirmed and underscored the G7's relevance to 21st-century security. However, there are doubts as to its future capacity to act.


In the run-up to the G7 Summit, the US and Italy were not in agreement regarding the place of economic security in the G7 discussions and conclusions. However, the summit proved successful in addressing burning issues such as Ukraine and the Italian presidency’s priorities like migration and Africa and charting the next steps of the Group’s economic security agenda.


On the latter, leaders committed to enhanced collaboration on research security, outbound investments, dual-use technologies, export controls, and critical minerals. Progress in these areas was accompanied by the approval of a $50bn-worth loan to supportUkraine’s war efforts against its invader and a hardening tone on China’s distortive trade practices and complicity in Russia’s war on Ukraine.


The participation of twelve leaders further demonstrated the G7’s commitment to partnerships and avoiding exclusivity or becoming a “fortress,” as Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni remarked in her opening speech.


While the G7 has developed over the years into the most important forum for like-minded nations committed to safeguarding economic and political freedoms, the question remains on whether such an effort will stay high on the countries’ agenda given uncertain domestic political situations in several member countries. The possible election of Trump puts the US’ commitment to multilateral engagement in doubt; in the EU, the rise of the far-right will also lead to political crises and a weakened capacity to engage on the international stage.


The Apulian Summit promised engagement with the Global South and emerging economies through partnerships in trade, security, energy, and digital connectivity. But these are little more than declarations of intent that can easily be undone by future American and European governments. The same goes for other crucial commitments such as the financial pledges made to Ukraine.


If liberal democracies are to outcompete China and Russia for influence, they must retain their credibility as trustworthy partners in normative and philosophical terms too. Yet the Summit was mute about nativistic tendencies, growing racism, islamophobia, and antisemitism,  which will not convince the world of the good intentions of the West. Quite the contrary. The surge of anti-globalisation sentiments and nationalistic ideas dwarfs the G7’s influence abroad and participates in a world fractured into multiple blocks, incompatible with the interconnected, transnational challenges it faces, from climate change to migrations.


In sum, if last year’s Hiroshima G7 marked what could be a dramatic inflection to the globalisation narrative”, perhaps the Apulia G7 will be seen as the point of entry into a  future of incapacitating disunity. The political background of the G7 and the respective governments weakened the scope and promises of what should have been a decisive gathering at a critical time.

Riccardo Bosticco
 is a Programme Assistant within the Europe's Political Economy programme.

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