The first “World Economic Summit” – which later became the G7 – was initiated in 1975 by former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and then Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. The heads of state and government of Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Japan and the USA – the Group of Six – met for a fireside chat at the Château de Rambouillet in France.
In view of the economic problems in the 1970s – the first oil crisis and the collapse of the fixed exchange rate system (Bretton Woods) – the meeting provided an opportunity to exchange ideas on potential solutions. The participants coordinated international economic policy and agreed on initial measures to address the global downturn.
Expansion of focus to include to foreign policy and security policy issues
Canada was invited to join in 1976 and the Group of Seven met for the first time for the 1976 Summit in Puerto Rico. The talks initially continued to focus on monetary policy issues. The first talks between what was then the European Community and the G7 took place in London as early as 1977. Since the Ottawa Summit in 1981, the European Community (now European Union) has regularly participated in all working sessions.
In the 1980s, the G7’s scope of interest was expanded to include foreign policy and security policy issues. Challenges such as the long-standing Iran-Iraq conflict and the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union influenced the focus of the meetings.
In 1991, after the East-West confrontation had been overcome, then Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev was invited to talks on the fringes of the London Summit for the first time. The Group of Eight was finally constituted at the Birmingham Summit in 1998: Russia became a member.
Germany holds the Presidency for the seventh time
Due to Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the G7 leaders decided in 2014 to meet as the G7 again – without Russia. In this way, the G7 emphasised the fact that it is based on shared values and is not prepared to accept any violation of international law without challenge.
In 2022, Germany will hold the Presidency of the G7 for the seventh time. The G7 heads of state and government will meet at Schloss Elmau from 26 to 28 June 2022. Japan is due to take over the Presidency from Germany in 2023.