Stanley's blog

Seats at at the high table

Those entitled to attend this week’s G8 meeting in Washington are its 20 members:

France – Germany – Italy – UK – EU (Presidency & ECB)

Russia – Turkey

Canada – US

Argentina – Brazil – Mexico
Saudi Arabia – South Africa
China – India – Indonesia – Japan – South Korea

World Bank
International Monetary and Financial Committee (ex officio)
IMF and World Bank Development Committee (ex officio)

Excluded are Spain and Netherlands, the world’s 8th and 16th largest economies who demanded seats.

Sarkozy to the rescue

France offered Madrid one of the two seats normally reserved for the presidency – a ploy Washington accepted.

The Americans were unsympathetic about the Netherlands and in the end, Sarkozy got round US objections by offering Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende one of the two seats reserved for France. The chair had been earmarked for French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and who will now sit behind Sarkozy in an area normally given over to advisers.

Finally came the flag problem: Balkenende could hardly sit behind a French flag. So Sarkozy decided to replace it with an EU flag, so that the Spanish, French, Dutch and EU Commission leaders will all officially represent the EU at the talks.

What does this tell you?

  • G20 composition is out of date.
  • Resolved thanks to French magnanimity and imaginantion.
  • There should be one EU seat, or at least one Eurogroup seat.
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