G20 Agenda

Financial focus

The initial G20 agenda, as conceived by US, Canadian and German policy makers, was very much focused on the sustainability of sovereign debt and global financial stability, in an inclusive format that would bring in the largest developing economies as equal partners. During a summit in November 2008, the leaders of the group pledged to contribute trillions to international finance organizations, including the World Bank and IMF, mainly for reestablishing the global financial system.[61][62]

Since inception, the recurring themes covered by G20 summit participants have related in priority to global economic growth, international trade and financial market regulation.[63]

Inclusive growth

After the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, more "issues of global significance"[63][64] were added to the G20 agenda: migration, digitisation, employment, healthcare, the economic empowerment of women and development aid.[65]

Interrelated themes

Wolfgang Schäuble, German Federal Minister of Finance, has insisted on the interconnected nature of the issues facing G20 nations, be they purely financial or developmental, and the need to reach effective, cross-cutting policy measures: "Globalization has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, but there is also a growing rise in frustration in some quarters […] development, [national] security and migration are all interlinked"[64]


Exclusivity of membership

Although the G20 has stated that the group's "economic weight and broad membership gives it a high degree of legitimacy and influence over the management of the global economy and financial system",[66] its legitimacy has been challenged. A 2011 report for the Danish Institute for International Studies criticised the G20's exclusivity, particularly highlighting its underrepresentation of African countries and its practice of inviting observers from non-member states as a mere "concession at the margins", which does not grant the organisation representational legitimacy.[67] With respect to the membership issue, former US President Barack Obama noted the difficulty of pleasing everyone: "Everybody wants the smallest possible group that includes them. So, if they're the 21st largest nation in the world, they want the G21, and think it's highly unfair if they have been cut out."[68] Others stated in 2011 that the exclusivity is not an insurmountable problem, and proposed mechanisms by which it could become more inclusive.[69]

Norwegian perspective

In line with Norway's emphasis on inclusive international processes, the United Nations and the UN-system, in a 2010 interview with Der Spiegel, former Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre called the G20 "one of the greatest setbacks since World War II"[8] as 173 nations who are all members of the UN are not among the G20. This includes Norway, a major developed economy and the seventh-largest contributor to UN international development programs,[70] which is not a member of the EU, and thus is not represented in the G20 even indirectly.[8] Norway, like other such nations, has little or no voice within the group. Støre argued that the G20 undermines the legitimacy of international organizations set up in the aftermath of World War II, such as the IMF, World Bank and United Nations:

Norway, under the government of Erna Solberg, a

Norway, under the government of Erna Solberg, attended the 2017 G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany,[71] and participates[when?] in working groups and sub-working groups, for instance on research.[citation needed] The Norwegian Minister of the Elderly will participate[when?] under the 2019 Japanese presidency of the G20.[citation needed]

The Spanish government's policy is to not request official membership. Despite being hit hard by the economic crisis after 2008, Spain is still the world's thirteenth largest economy by nominal GDP (the 5th in the European Union) and fifteenth largest by purchasing power parity, clearly exceeding the numbers of several current members of the G20 such as Argentina or South Africa. In addition, since the 1990s several Spanish companies have gained multinational status, often expanding their activities in culturally close Latin America, where Spain is the second biggest foreign investor after the United States and keeps an important influence. These facts have reinforced the idea that Spain should seek permanent membership of the G20.[42]

Polish aspirations

In contrast with the Spanish posi

In contrast with the Spanish position, the Polish government has repeatedly asked to join the G20.

Before the 2009 G20 London summit, the Polish government expressed an interest in joining with Spain and the Netherlands and condemned an "organisational mess" in which a few European leaders speak in the name of all the EU without legitimate autho

Before the 2009 G20 London summit, the Polish government expressed an interest in joining with Spain and the Netherlands and condemned an "organisational mess" in which a few European leaders speak in the name of all the EU without legitimate authorisation in cases which belong to the European Commission.[citation needed]

During a 2010 meeting with foreign diplomats, former Polish president Lech Kaczyński said:

Polish economy is according to our data an 18th world economy. The place of my country is among the members of the G20. This is a very simple postulate: firstly – it results from the size of Polish economy, secondly – it results from the fact that Poland is the biggest country in its region and the biggest country that has experienced a certain story. That story is a political and economic transformation.[72]

In 2012, Tim Ferguson wrote in Forbes that swapping

In 2012, Tim Ferguson wrote in Forbes that swapping Argentina for Poland should be considered, claiming that the Polish economy was headed toward a leadership role in Europe and its membership would be more legitimate.[73][74] A similar opinion was expressed by Marcin Sobczyk in the Wall Street Journal,[75] and by Mamta Murthi from the World Bank.[citation needed]

In 2014 con

In 2014 consulting company Ernst & Young published its report about optimal members for G20. After analyzing trade, institutional and investment links Poland was included as one of the optimal members.[76]

G20 membership has been part of Poland's Law and Justice party and President Andrzej Duda political program.[77] In March 2017, Deputy Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki took part in a meeting of G20 financial ministers in Baden-Baden as the first Polish representative.[78][79]

In June 2010, Singapore's representative to the United Nations warned the G20 that its decisions would affect "all countries, big and small", and asserted that prominent non-G20 members should be included in financial reform discussions.[80] Singapore thereafter took a leading role in organizing the Global Governance Group (3G), an informal grouping of 30 non-G20 countries (including several microstates and many Third World countries) with the aim of collectively channelling their views into the G20 process more effectively.[81][82][83] Singapore's chairing of the 3G was cited as a rationale for inviting Singapore to the November 2010 G20 summit in South Korea,[84] as well as the 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 summits.[citation needed]

Foreign Policy critiques

The American magazine Foreign Po

The American magazine Foreign Policy has published articles condemning the G20, in terms of its principal function as an alternative to the supposedly exclusive G8. It questions the actions of some of the G20 members, and advances the notion that some nations should not have membership in the first place. Furthermore, with the effects of the Great Recession still ongoing, the magazine has criticized the G20's efforts to implement reforms of the world's financial institutions, branding such efforts as failed.[85]

Wider concerns

The G20's prominent membership giv

The G20's prominent membership gives it a strong input on global policy despite lacking any formal ability to enforce rules. There are disputes over the legitimacy of the G20,[86] and criticisms of its organisation and the efficacy of its declarations.[87]

The G20's transparency and accountability have been questioned by critics, who call attention to the absence of a formal charter and the fact that the most important G20 meetings are closed-door.[88] In 2001, the economist The G20's transparency and accountability have been questioned by critics, who call attention to the absence of a formal charter and the fact that the most important G20 meetings are closed-door.[88] In 2001, the economist Frances Stewart proposed an Economic Security Council within the United Nations as an alternative to the G20. In such a council, members would be elected by the General Assembly based on their importance to the world economy, and the contribution they are willing to provide to world economic development.[89]

The cost and extent of summit-related security is often a contentious issue in the hosting country, and G20 summits have attracted protesters from a variety of backgrounds, including information activists, opponents of fractional-reserve banking and anti-capitalists. In 2010, the Toronto G20 summit sparked mass protests and rioting, leading to the largest mass arrest in Canada's history.