G7 is about growing inequality, but is dominated by Donald Trump
The forum of the seven major industrial states plus the European Union and Russia (excluded since 2014 because of Landgrab in Ukraine) has become anything but predictable since Donald Trump joined. The French hosts have long seemed happy when the participants broke up without a fight, such as the last time a sickened Trump blamed Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. For that reason, a difficult final statement has been abandoned in advance, which, according to French president and host Emmanuel Macron, “nobody reads anyway”.
How to maintain an appearance of unity and how to deal with “The Donald”, that seems to be the unofficial themes in Biarritz. It is difficult to estimate what the mood will be like “the chosen one,” as Trump called himself this week in front of journalists. Earlier this week, in a tantrum, he embarrassed the Danish queen over his not-favorably-rejected proposal to buy Greenland. Only then did he threaten Macron with additional rates on French wine imports after the French president had announced that he would tackle tax evasion by GAFA (the American companies Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple).
Officially the agenda of this summit is “the fight against growing inequality”. The G7 website lists the other topics for discussion: security and terrorism, cyber security, climate change and the environment and emancipation. The French like to philosophize about the blessings of international cooperation or unilateralism (Trump hates it and prefers to make separate deals with trading partners) and how to save democracy from populists. And then there are the climate and the Amazon fires that require attention. President Macron hopes that “his” major themes will be discussed.
China is not in Biarritz, but it will be much about that country because of the escalating trade war and the Huawei issue. Add to this the sensitive issue that is called brexit. Johnson wants a new divorce treaty, Macron and Merkel have challenged him to come up with that. But the British prime minister does not seem to have an alternative. Apart from investing heavily in his good relationship with Donald Trump who now has little interest in Merkel and Macron. In short, guaranteed.
Observers nevertheless expect that most of the time will be spent in a bad and threatening relationship with Iran. Trump and the Europeans think completely differently about this. The European NATO partners are reluctant to send a fleet to the Strait of Hormuz. Where Americans are on a collision course with Iran, Europe continues to believe in a dialogue.
Macron’s diplomatic efforts garnered trump from the French president that he shouldn’t think he could speak for America. Nor is Trump happy with the British who ordered a detained Iranian oil tanker to leave Gibraltar, while the Americans claimed the ship.
Donald Trump hints on Russia’s return to the G7, which then becomes the G8. Next year the G7 summit will be in the United States and Donald Trump would like to unpack in an election year. But that too is difficult. Macron believes that President Putin must first show good will with Ukraine and the British are still waiting for an explanation of the poison attack on a Russian spy and his daughter in southern England.
Thirteen thousand French police officers and soldiers have been mobilized to ensure that the summit runs smoothly. Disruptions are expected on the street. The left-wing opposition to the G7 holds a counter top, close by, in the seaside town of Hendaye. Five arrests have already been made, of people planning an attack on the police. In addition, a protest from the Gele Hesjes is expected, which at least fits in with the main theme: the fight against growing inequality.