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The Group of Eight and the European Union: The Evolving Partnership

II. The European Union in the G8

Participation Parallels Growth in the EU's Stature

The impact of the EU on the activities of the G8 has grown in parallel to its increasing influence in world affairs. As the EU expands and acquires legal competence in an increasing number of areas including economic and monetary coordination, social and regional policy and, through implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) political and security issues, its role in the Western Economic Summits as well as the entire G8 framework continues to evolve.

The first solid evidence of the leadership role played by the EU, and specifically the European Commission, has been the successful coordination of G24 aid to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEEC) which continues today. At the Paris 'Arch' Summit in 1989, the G7 realized that the larger and more complex long-term program for the CEEC required the coordinated action of an increased number of Western countries. In establishing the G24, consisting of all OECD members, expressly for the purpose of assisting the CEEC, one of the three previously mentioned primary roles the G8 see themselves as playing (i.e., "giving impulses to wider negotiations in other bodies") has been successfully carried out. Nicholas Bayne notes that this mandate to coordinate G24 assistance is an exceptional instance in which the Commission has been granted responsibility for an international policy.60

At the July 1989 Paris 'Arch' Summit the G7, noting the urgent need for assistance in the newly liberated countries of Central and Eastern Europe, requested that the European Commission coordinate efforts to provide these countries with technical and financial aid. Less than one month later, on 1 August, the first meeting of the G24 convened in Brussels. Representatives of the 24 countries, consisting of all OECD members, the 12 EC Member States and others were present. In addition, the IMF, World Bank and the Paris Club indicated their willingness to become involved.

Due to the rapid increase in reform movements throughout the CEEC, the G24 extended its scope and currently provides assistance to Albania, the Baltic States, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia. A G8 expert has noted that "the G24 has become an established and valued part of the machinery for mobilizing help for Eastern Europe."61

As the agenda of the G8 has broadened in its scope, the EU has demonstrated both its eagerness and ability to be an equal partner in all realms of the G8. As the following case study illustrates, the development of the G8 Global Information Society has confirmed the equal status of the EU alongside the official members at the apex of the G8 system.

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Updated: June 25, 1998

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