Strategic observation

News Analysis: G7 may face uphill battle in forging summit consensus

2017-05-26 06:44:35 (Beijing Time)         English.news.cn

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By Stefania Fumo

TAORMINA, Italy, May 25 (Xinhua) -- As the 43rd yearly summit of the Group of Seven (G7) is to be start Friday, analysts say it could be an uphill battle for the summit to reach consensus over key issues such as migration, security, and climate change.

Tensions between Britain and the EU following last year's Brexit referendum, the protectionist and pro-carbon fuels stance of recently elected U.S. President Donald Trump, and the rise of populist, eurosceptic sentiment across Europe spell a tough time ahead for leaders at the Taormina meeting.

"The raison d'etre of the G7 is its ability to make decisions and coordinate policies swiftly," according to Leuven Center for Global Governance Studies Director Jan Wouters.

"This is no longer the case, as recent elections in Europe and the United States have shown," he said, writing for the University of Toronto's G20 Research Group, which monitors the extent to which leaders follow up on their summit commitments.

"If the like-mindedness on which it was always premised lapses due to the Trump administration" and to frictions between Britain and the EU over Brexit, "the G7 may face daunting challenges in the coming years," he concluded.

Meanwhile at a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, Trump linked migration to Monday's terrorist attack in the British city of Manchester, in which a suicide bomber killed at least 22 lives.

This puts him at odds with Italy, which says that migration and terrorism must not be equated.

Since it began rescuing people off unseaworthy human trafficking boats in the Mediterranean in 2014, Italy has pushed the refugee and migrant crisis squarely onto the EU agenda, and has called for massive investments in Africa as a way to tackle the root causes of the exodus.

"At work for G7 Taormina on security, migrations, climate, Africa relations," Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni tweeted Thursday, outlining the key points Italy wishes to table at the two-day summit that kicks off in the Sicilian town of Taormina on Friday.

The Italian PM's words came as harrowing images from Wednesday's migrant shipwreck off Libya, in which 32 people including many young children drowned within sight of rescuers, followed on the equally distressing images from Manchester on Monday, where at least six teenagers and one eight-year-old child were blown up at a concert by American pop star and teen idol, Ariana Grande.

Meanwhile the exodus from Africa and the Middle East shows no signs of abating. Over 60,000 migrants and refugees have reached southern Europe by sea so far this year, according to the Rome-based International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Over 1,300 died or went missing in the attempt, the UN-affiliated organization said.

At a press briefing in Rome last week, senior United Nations and World Food Programme (WFP) staffers warned that 20 million people in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen are on the brink of famine.

The looming humanitarian disaster is due to a combination of drought and armed conflict with fundamentalist insurgencies, such as the Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab groups, the staffers said.

A six-year civil war in Syria also continues to wreak havoc, driving an estimated 11 million people from their homes.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 4.8 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries and 6.6 million are internally displaced.

About 1 million Syrians have sought asylum in Europe, according to the Migration Policy Center at the European University Institute in Florence.

Considering the differences among the members and the complexity of the issues themselves, it will be a no easy task for the seven most advanced industrialized countries, namely Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States to reach an agreement on means to tackle these issues.