Summit Issues for Germany
Job creation will be the central component of Germany's platform at Birmingham because of concerns over rising numbers of unemployed youth and continued increase of unemployed in East Germany (currently at nearly 20%). This makes unemployment the number one issue for Germany's upcoming election. To win the September election against SPD Schroeder, Kohl will use the issue of unemployment to demonstrate yet again his adept leadership and his party's continued commitment to resolving Germany's chief economic concern. He will capitalize upon the already existing "Seven Principles for Action" , which emerged from the London Conference on Growth, Employability and Inclusion (February 22 1998). He will furthermore use the G8 Summit to devalue Schroeder's April 15 SPD proposal for an employment policy consistent with recently adopted EU guidelines. Due to the existing consensus reaffirmed by the G8 employment ministers in London, this issue will certainly be tabled, leading at least to a co-option of the "Seven Principles For Action" by the Birmingham Communiqué.
With the German deficit at 2.7% of GDP, safely below the 3.0% required by Maastricht and a slight improvement in overall indebtedness to 61.25% of GDP, Kohl will continue campaigning for a borderless EU and the transfer to the Euro expected January 1, 1999. The Birmingham Communiqué will likely express support for the process of European Integration. But the EU, not the G8, will handle the technical and political hurdles in the move towards a single European currency (at a meeting in Brussels May 2-3).
Germany's long tradition of support for strong international environmental standards will continue. Its vested interest in world environmental issues is due to its large environmental technologies sector, second only to the US. GDP from environmental technology will soon rival the automobile industry as Germany's leading export. Germany's target for CO2 emission reduction was one of the highest at Kyoto. We expect Germany to continue providing leadership in advancing this issue at the Birmingham Summit. The momentum generated at Kyoto leads us to conclude that the Communiqué will address this issue, perhaps more boldly than before.
Germany values the development of its relationship with Russia and Ukraine. German assistance to Russia totaled DM 133.1 billion ($73.9 billion). The contributions to Ukraine have been equally significant though not proportional. Kohl recognizes that Russia and Ukraine's economy and lately the disagreements in Moscow's Duma are geo-politically intrinsic to the stability of Europe. Germany will probably support a resolution calling for increased partnership with both nation-states. This is critical to ensure that Ukraine does not feel further alienated from the West and that Yeltsin is appeased despite NATO expansion to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. This issue looms large because of the potential for a renewed polarization of Europe, as Ukraine and Russia signed a 10-year economic "rapprochement" agreement earlier this year. This agreement may be seen as a move towards reduced sovereignty for Ukraine and the all-feared satellite status under Russian-led CIS. This is why Western aid is particularly needed in the area. The likelihood of a strongly worded resolution will depend on the willingness of the G8 to share the financial burden.
Prepared by Danielle Kotras, Maja Nazaruk, and Lorna Schmidt, University of Toronto G8 Research Group, May 1998.