Before the G7 summit
The meeting, which begins this evening in Brussels, will look firstly at foreign-policy matters. There will be a focus on the G7’s position vis à vis Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. Central points that will be deliberated on Wednesday and Thursday in Brussels include the global economy, free trade, financial market regulation, energy and development policy in Africa.
A signal of support for Ukraine
Russia’s actions in annexing Crimea, said the Chancellor, have made it necessary to do without Russia’s participation in the G8 summit meeting. The G8, she explained, is not only an economic group, but a community of values. "This absolutely includes respecting international law," said Angela Merkel. The situation in Ukraine will be a prominent issue at the G7 summit. Above all a signal of support for Ukraine should come from the summit, said Angela Merkel.
She reaffirmed the option of imposing third-level sanctions on Russia. At the same time, though, she also reaffirmed that sanctions are not an end in themselves. We do not want sanctions; we would much rather have a close partnership with Russia, she added.
Securing sustainable growth
Economic and trade issues are then on the agenda for the second day of the summit meeting. The background is the sustainable and balanced growth of the global economy. This calls for ambitious structural reforms, pro-growth fiscal consolidation, and steps to tap new growth potential.
"Any growth, however, robust, would be built on very shaky foundations, if we did not continue to work on learning a lesson from the dreadful crisis of 2008 and 2009," said the Chancellor. Much must then still be done, in particular in terms of employment.
With respect to trade, it will be a question of further opening international markets and dismantling trade barriers. "The G7 states share the conviction that a free and open economic system is the precondition for growth and stability. Free world trade is the driver of growth," said Angela Merkel.
Ensuring reliable energy supplies
Another area for discussion is energy and climate. In the view of Angela Merkel, energy must not be used as an instrument of political force. It is thus important to consider how to ensure reliable energy supplies and to extend and modernise infrastructure.
The Chancellor pointed out that Germany is a trailblazer in the field of sustainable energy, with 25 per cent of the country’s electricity generated from renewables.
Climate change mitigation will also be on the agenda, along with a binding climate agreement, to come into force no later than 2020. Pledges to date to reduce CO2 emissions are not adequate to keep the rise in global temperature below 2°C. "We cannot afford a second failure like the one we saw in Copenhagen," said Angela Merkel.
Providing development policy impetus
Finally, development policy is to be discussed. In recent years the G7 has played an important part in providing developing policy impetus. Key challenges include child and maternal health and the goal of overcoming hunger and ensuring sustainable food security for a growing world population.
The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition was launched in 2012, with the aim of raising 50 million Africans out of poverty in ten years. "Everybody in the world ought to be able to live in dignity. At the same time, we must protect our natural resource base," said the Chancellor.
The group of the world’s leading industrialised nations (G7) includes Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Canada and the United States of America. The European Union is also represented at meetings. The group is not an organisation, but rather an informal forum of heads of state and government. Next year, Germany will assume the presidency, as a result of which next year’s summit meeting will be held in Germany, on 4 and 5 June 2015 at Schloss Elmau.
"Europe is our common future," says Chancellor
In her government statement, the Chancellor looked back at the most recent meeting of the EU heads of state and government, held shortly after the elections to the European Parliament. She expressed her pleasure at the higher turnout figures in Germany. The majority of German voters were clearly pro-European, she said.
"To counter the root causes of Euroscepticism in some countries, we will have to make the EU even better." The EU heads of state and government should "do all they can to put growth, competitiveness and above all employment at the heart of our work". The EU must concentrate more on the essential and comply with its own regulations and treaties.
Support for Jean-Claude Juncker
Political priorities call for the people who represent these priorities and who can implement them. The Chancellor once again commented on the further procedure of the election of the President of the European Commission. She reiterated the support of the German government for the candidate Jean-Claude Juncker. She does not share the reservations of individual member states, she said, but believes it more important to have a thorough rather than a swift solution.
Germany and the United Kingdom want a strong EU
"I think it is grossly negligent, in fact really unacceptable, how casually some people are saying that it really doesn’t matter if the UK agrees or not, that in fact it doesn’t really matter if the UK remains a member or not - if they want to go – let them," declared Angela Merkel with a view to the UK’s criticism.
It cannot be said that the United Kingdom is an easy partner, said Angela Merkel. The country has received a lot from Europe, but in turn it has given Europe a lot. Germany and the United Kingdom pursue common interests and goals, above all the goal of achieving a strong, competitive EU that pools its forces.