Background and history

Vergrößerung (en)
Photo: REGIERUNGonline/Fassbender
G8 Birmingham 1998
The global economic recession in the seventies inspired the creation of an informal discussion group. At the first global economic summit in 1975, six of the world's strongest economic powers met to find a solution to the crisis.
The first 'Global economic summit' was convened by the former French President Giscard d'Estaing and the then Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in 1975. Six Heads of State and Government met at Château Rambouillet for informal discussions (Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, France; Helmut Schmidt, Germany; Aldo Moro, Italy; Takeo Miki, Japan; Harold Wilson, UK; Gerald Ford, USA).
Following the first oil crisis and the collapse of fixed exchange rates (Bretton Woods) the participants met to decide their position regarding international economic policy. They agreed on initial measures to counter the continuing global economic downturn.

G6 becomes G7

Graphic showing the members of the G8 on a timelinePhoto: BMWi Vergrößerung (en) Development of the G8After Canada's accession to the Group at the 1976 summit in Puerto Rico the members met as the G7. Discussions continued to be dominated by monetary issues.
The eighties saw the G7 expand its interest into foreign and security matters. The meetings agendas were strongly influenced by current challenges such as the Iran - Iraq conflict and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Role of the European Union

The first discussions between the European Community and the G7 were held in London in 1977. Detailed foreign policy discussions with the European Community were then held at the Venice Summit in 1980.
The European Community has regularly taken part in all the sessions since the Ottawa Summit in 1981.
The requirement for the permanent representation of the European Union (EU) in the G8 process is based on its role as one of the most powerful economic areas in the world. An additional factor is the EU's increased involvement in global security issues.

Integrating Russia

Following the resolution of the East West confrontation, the then Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev applied to join the Group. Gorbachev was first invited to discussions on the fringe of the London Summit in 1991. In 1992 Russia was able to become a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union Russia gradually became increasingly involved in the G8 process between 1993 and 1998. The Group of Eight was finally constituted at the Birmingham Summit in 1998: Russia was now a member.
At Kananaskis in 2002 the Heads of State and Government decided that Russia should assume the G8 Presidency for the first time in 2006. The first summit under a Russian Presidency was held in St. Petersburg in July 2006.
The G7 structure continues to be used for discussing certain financial issues.