G8: A Year With Italy at the Helm

The Main Conference Hall, L'Aquila G8 Summit 2009


The start of 2010 marks the end of Italy's year at the helm of the G8 group, a year marked by intense hard work on the numerous issues at the heart of the international debate such as combating the worldwide economic crisis, imparting a fresh boost to international trade, fighting climate change, promoting development in the world's poorer countries, guaranteeing food safety and security, ensuring access to water, health, the struggle against terrorism, and peace and cooperation amongst peoples and nations

The G8 was also marked by the earthquake that struck Abruzzo, and especially L’Aquila, on 6 April 2009. This tragedy prompted the Italian Government to shift to the hard-hit capital of Abruzzo, the Summit that it had initially planned to hold in the archipelago of La Maddalena in Sardinia; the move was designed to focus attention on both the region and the people so badly hit by by the earthquake.
Thus the 2009 G8 Summit ended up being held in L'Aquila from 8 to 10 July.  But the annual Summit of heads of state and government leaders is only the highest-profile aspect of the extremely complex G8 process, which lasts for a whole year.  Important meetings at ministerial level have been held throughout the year, providing ministers with the opportunity to hold direct debates on such specific issues as finance, foreign affairs, trade, justice, security, the environment, farming and employment.

The first meeting of the year, attended by the Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors of the G8 member countries, was held in Rome in February.  This was followed by:  the Labour Ministers' Meeting at the end of March; the Agriculture Ministers' Meeting at Cison di Valmarino in the province of Treviso; the Environment Ministers' Meeting, which was held in Syracuse in April; the Energy Ministers' Meeting and the Justice and Interior Ministers' Meeting, which were held in Rome in May; the Development Ministers' Meeting; the second G8 Finance Ministers' Meeting, this time in Lecce; and the Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Trieste.  Each one of these ministerial meetings generated a final document which was then submitted to the Summit in L'Aquila, making a crucial contribution to the debate on the issues on the agenda.

In L’Aquila the heads of state and government leaders of the G8 group of countries met with over 30 delegations, making for a total of 40 participants ranging from the G8 member countries themselves, to the countries in the Group of Five (the so-called G5 group), the countries in the MEF (the Major Economies Forum), member countries of the African Union, the international organisations and a host of other countries invited by the Italian presidency.

The most significant results of the 2009 G8 Summit include:  an increase in the aid fund for Africa; an agreement on the climate; a new code of laws and ground rules accepted by all and universally valid for emerging from the economic crisis; an agreement on, and sharing of responsibility in, the stabilisation of crisis areas.