The summit is hosted by Britain and attended by leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States. Representatives from the European Union also are attending, along with other guests – the heads of Australia, South Africa and South Korea. India’s prime minister is joining via video link.
“This is a meeting that genuinely needs to happen,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson, this year’s host as he opened the plenary session of leaders. “We need to make sure that we learn the lessons from the pandemic, we need to make sure that we don’t repeat some of the errors that we doubtless made in the course of the last 18 months or so.”
Johnson said that he wants the G-7 to be “building back better, building back greener, building back fairer, and building back more equal and in a more gender-neutral and perhaps more feminine way.”
While past G-7 meetings were marked with lavish banquets, massive delegations and media entourages, this year’s sessions are severely restricted. Masks, daily COVID-19 testing and other health protocols are stark reminders the coronavirus crisis is far from over.
“The world will look to the G-7 to apply our shared values and diplomatic might, to the challenge of defeating the pandemic and leading a global recovery,” said Johnson.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) June 11, 2021
The pandemic caused leaders to skip last year’s summit. The last time the G-7 met in-person was in Biarritz, France 2018.
G-7 pandemic plan
Johnson said the G-7 will announce a plan to donate a billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to low- and middle-income countries, including 100 million doses from Britain.
Johnson’s announcement on Thursday came after U.S. President Joe Biden said earlier in the day that his administration is donating 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, half of the G-7 vaccine trove.
Biden is eager to play his role in a successful G-7, to show the U.S. is back as a strong and dependable ally, after four years of unpredictability under Donald Trump.
It’s the first official day of the G7 Summit here in the United Kingdom. I’m looking forward to reinforcing our commitment to multilateralism and working with our allies and partners to build a more fair and inclusive global economy.
Let’s get to work.
— President Biden (@POTUS) June 11, 2021
“President Biden wants to show that the United States is back in Europe,” said Dan Hamilton, director the Global Europe Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center. “To strengthen their security, enhance their economic recovery, and lead the world from sickness to health, because that clearly is the overriding priority,” Hamilton added.
The G-7 countries are close allies and major trading partners, with similar views on security and trade cooperation. Collectively the group accounts for about half of the global economy.
The G-7 summit ends Sunday. Biden and first lady Jill Biden will continue their tour and attend the European Union Summit, the NATO Summit and his highly anticipated meeting Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.