This page was archived on October 2020.


Key elements of the international system

65 - European policy in the G8, G20 and the Bretton Woods institutions

Grade: B-
Unity 3/5
Resources 5/5
Outcome 4/10
Total 12/20
Scorecard 2010/11: C+ (10/20)

EU leaders were on the defensive over the euro at the G20 summit. Reforms to European representation in the IMF were delayed but the IMF continued to give credibility to eurozone bailouts.

Mexico’s presidency of the G20 in 2012 was dominated by the euro crisis just as the French presidency in 2011 had been. Mexico pursued a number of substantive and procedural initiatives – including the first G20 foreign ministers’ meeting and negotiations on banking regulations – but the group’s June summit in Los Cabos came during an especially tense period in the euro crisis. The summit generated new pledges of support to help finance the IMF’s response, including over $60 billion from the BRICS countries, but the media focused on the defensive stance of the presidents of the European Council and European Commission, who insisted that they would not be lectured on financial issues. (While High Representative Catherine Ashton attended the foreign ministers’ meeting, G20 diplomacy is a field in which the EEAS has little influence.)

Despite the IMF pledges, Los Cabos did not mark a turning point in the euro crisis, underlining the G20’s limitations. In 2013, Russia presides over the G20 and is unlikely to perform better. The G8’s ambitions are also reduced. In May, the US convened the G8 leaders at Camp David (newly elected Russian President Vladimir Putin pointedly did not attend). World leaders put pressure on Chancellor Merkel over Germany’s approach to the euro crisis but did not deliver notable results. Britain chairs the G8 in 2013.

The IMF continued to be a valuable ally to the EU in managing eurozone bailouts, despite off-the-record grumbling by IMF officials over a perceived lack of rigour among their European counterparts. However, the EU faced tensions over the implementation of a 2010 agreement to reduce its influence on the IMF board. This was meant to be completed by October 2012, but the US Congress has not yet ratified the agreement. While EU member states cannot be blamed for delays in Washington, they struggled to agree on promised cuts to the number of seats they hold on the IMF board: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Austria have made some concessions to rebalance the EU’s overall representation. 



Facilitating the consolidation of European seats at the IMF
Leaders: Austria - Belgium - Czech Republic - Netherlands
Slackers: Estonia - Spain