Togetherness at Taormina:
A G7 Summit of Substantial Success
May 27, 2017
The 43rd annual G7 summit, held in Taormina, Italy, on May 26-27, 2017, was a substantial success, led by its strong achievements on terrorism and backed by advances in the broader security, sustainable development and economic domains. At the end of their first day of meetings, the leaders released the two-and-a-half-page G7 Taormina Statement on the Fight Against Terrorism and Violent Extremism. They ended the next day with a formal G7 Taormina Leaders' Communiqué of 4,014 words, the G7 Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment of 2,619 words, and the G7 People-Centered Action Plan on Innovation, Skills and Labor of 687 words. Of the 39 paragraphs in the communiqué, the preamble took four, then foreign policy took 10, the global economy, inequality and gender equality took one each, trade took five, human mobility took two, Africa took one, food security and nutrition took four, climate and energy took three, innovation, skills and labour took four, and health took one. The security section was thus twice as large as any other section, even if it was only about 25% of the total. Its share was bolstered by the separate statement on terrorism, and gender was bolstered by the roadmap and action plan on the final day.
The preamble reaffirmed the G7's distinctive foundational mission of promoting democracy and human rights and added, as core values, sustainable development and, for the first time, culture. It proclaimed the progress from globalization and recognized the need to share its benefits more widely, and do more to "make poverty history," end hunger, create a cleaner and safer environment, and support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It spoke of "the transformative power of culture, gender equality, diversity and inclusion, education, science, technology and innovation."
The foreign policy section focused on all the key subjects: principles and endorsement of the results of the G7 foreign ministers' meeting; the Syrian war; the use of chemical weapons in Syria; Libya; ISIS; non-proliferation in North Korea; Ukraine and Russia; the East and South China Seas; and cyber attacks. Standing out was the G7 leaders' demand for a "credible transition" in Syria's government, their offer to contribute to Syria's subsequent reconstruction and their intention to hold accountable those responsible for using chemical weapons, and their commitment to the "final destruction" of ISIS in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and beyond. The communiqué promised to "strengthen measures" to end North Korea's nuclear and missile program for good. It blamed Russia for the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, said sanctions would stay until Russia changed course and added "we also stand ready to take further restrictive measures in order to increase costs on Russia should its actions so require."
On trade the G7 leaders did surprisingly well, given the transatlantic disagreements that had prevented consensus in the lead-up ministerial meetings. Using balanced phrasing that included U.S. president Donald Trump's core concerns, they affirmed their need for "free, fair and mutually beneficial trade and investment." They promised to "keep our markets open and to fight protectionism" so trade could work "to the benefit of everyone." They also pledged to improve the World Trade Organization and improve "social, labor, safety, tax cooperation and environmental standards throughout the global economy and its supply chains." The communiqué did not explicitly endorse the recently created Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, despite the fact that its existence proves that such agreement is possible in the 21st-century world.
On the highly divisive, high-profile issue of climate change, the summit did better than many had expected. It advanced the effort to control this urgent, existential threat. It wisely began by framing the issue as one of energy security and pointed to the growth and jobs that clean technology could bring. It then noted that the United States was reviewing its climate policies, while all other members "reaffirmed[ed] their strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement." They would not wait for the United States and would go it alone if need be. It was surprising that they said, with Donald Trump now back in a once-again united G7 club, "in this context we all agree on the importance of supporting developing countries." It was a necessary if very small step forward to the urgent task of improving as well as implementing the Paris Agreement. But they could go on the offence in five weeks at the G20's Hamburg Summit, where China and many other would be at the table to lend a needed hand.
On terrorism, the 1,321 words in the statement produced the previously day exceeded the 1,297 words in the comparable separate G7 Action Plan on Counter-Terrorism and Violent Extremism issued at the end at the Ise-Shima Summit on May 27, 2016. The Taormina terrorism statement affirmed the G7's distinctive foundation mission of promoting open democracy and individual liberty three times for each. It contained 38 precise, future-oriented, politically binding commitments, an increase from the 34 in last year's action plan. At Taormina leaders made six references to the need for compliance and implementation. They made two references to an institution inside the G7: the meeting of their interior ministers and the G7-created and -centred Financial Action Task Force. They made five specific references to institutions outside the G7, four to the United Nations and one to Interpol. This, however, doubled the one reference to inside institutions made in 2016 but dropped substantially from the 20 to outside ones. At Taormina, the G7 leaders decided to tackle terrorism themselves.
The roadmap on gender was a G7 first. It provided a foundation for a key priority to be taken up at the Canadian-hosted G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, in 2018. It reflected the fact that Taormina was the first G7/8 summit where two of the leaders at the table were women and where Canada's Justin Trudeau placed gender equality as a core priority for his government from the start. It also flowed from Trudeau's success in creating, with the support of Ivanka Trump, the Canada-U.S. Business Council on Women's Entrepreneurship, at his first bilateral summit with Trump in Washington a few months before.
In their public deliberation, reflected in the collective communiqué conclusions issued in the leaders' name, Taormina produced four documents of 8,614 words: on terrorism with 1,321 words; the communiqué of 4,014 words; the gender roadmap of 2,619 words; and the labour action plan of 687 words. This was close to the G7's 42-year average of 10,221 words and higher than the summits in Brussels in 2014 with 5,106, Camp David in 2012 with 3,604, and Muskoka in 2010 7,161 (see Appendix A).
In their domestic political management, the leaders paid two compliments to members by name, both coming in the main communiqué. One was to the European Union and the other to Japan. This was half as many as the 4.26 average of the previous 42 years and the lowest since 2004 with none. The Taormina leaders were not a self-congratulatory lot, even with two of their colleagues — May and Merkel — up for re-election very soon.
In their collective decision making, the Taormina leaders produced at least 171 precise, future-oriented, politically binding commitments. There were 38 in the document on terrorism, 73 in the communique, 60 in the gender one but none in the labour one. The total was well above the 42-year average of 110 and above the recent 141 in 2014, 81 in 2012, 44 in 2010, and 58 at Genoa in 2001.
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|Year||Grade||Domestic political management||Deliberation||Direction setting||Decision making||Delivery||Development of global governance||Participation|
|# communiqué compliments||Spread||# days||# statements||# words||# references to core values||# commitments||Compliance||# assessed||# ministerials created||# official-level groups created||# members||# participating countries||# participating international organizations|
|Average cycle 1
|Average cycle 2
|Average cycle 3 (
|Average cycle 4
|Average cycle 5
|Average cycle 6
Notes: N/A = not available.
Grade: Kirton scale is A+ Extremely Strong, Striking, Standout, Historic; A Very Strong; A- Strong; B+ Significant; B Substantial; B- Solid; C Small; D Very Small; F Failure (including made things worse).
Domestic political management: # communiqué compliments = the number of favourable references to G7/8 members by name. Spread = number of G7/8 members complimented.
Deliberation: # days = the duration of the summit; # statements = number of official statements issued in the leaders' name; # words = number of words contained in the official statements.
Direction setting: # references to core values = number of references to the G7/8's core values of open democracy, individual liberty and human rights contained in official documents
Decision making: # commitments contained in the official documents.
Delivery: Compliance: compliance with selected commitments assessed as follows: 1975–1989 assessed by George von Furstenberg and Joseph Daniels; 1990–1995 assessed by Ella Kokotsis; 1996– assessed by the G7 Research Group. # commitments: number of commitments assessed. 2016 is draft Final Compliance Scores only.
Development of global governance: # ministerials created = number of institutions at the ministerial level created; # official-level groups created = number of institutions at the officials level created. Institutions created at or by the summit, or during the hosting year, at least in the form of having one meeting take place.
Participation: # members = number of leaders of full members, including those representing the European Community from the start; Russia started as a participant in 1991 and became a full member in 1998; the G4 met in 1974 without Japan and Italy and later that year the G6 (without Canada) met. # participating countries = number of full members plus number of leaders from other countries. # participating international organizations = number of heads of international organizations.
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