The G-7 (USA, Japan, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Canada) was taken off life support at the IMF – World Bank Annual Meetings. So was the G-8 (the G-7 plus Russia), although even fewer observers noticed or cared. Since international organisations are never formally killed off, the G-7 and G-8 will simply be allowed to fade away. They reflected the economic and geopolitical distribution of power in the immediate aftermath of World War II. When reality changes, even international organisations eventually catch on and up. Germany, the UK, France and Italy are global bit players at best now. They only matter if they act jointly. The way to do this is through the EU – but with a twist.
For global economic and financial governance, the G-20 is supposed to take over from the G-7/8. It consists of the ministers of finance and central bank governors of the G-8 plus Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi-Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey. The tally is completed by the European Union, represented by the rotating Council presidency and the European Central Bank President. The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and the President of the World Bank, plus the chairs of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) and Development Committee of the IMF and World Bank, also participate in G-20 meetings on an ex-officio basis.
In addition, a few countries have managed to elbow their way into the G-20 meetings for specific issues where they view themselves as playing a globally significant role. As far as I can tell they achieved this by throwing their toys out of the pram and/or threatening to hold their breath and making a scene. The Netherlands fall into this category. They base their claim to be invited (which was effective on three occasions thus far) on the country’s generosity as development aid donors, obviously not heeding the Talmudic view that giving charity and boasting about it, is actually a sin.