European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk represented the European Union at this year’s G20 Summit, under the Argentinian Presidency in Buenos Aires. Following the two days Summit, G20 leaders agreed to defend a multilateral rules based international order. President Juncker said: “No one country, no one region can do it alone. There is no alternative to multilateral cooperation. This year’s G20 has proven our willingness to forge consensus and address challenges together.”
“Building consensus for fair and sustainable development”
The theme of this year’s Summit was “Building consensus for fair and sustainable development”. Along with the EU, leaders from 19 countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States) gathered to mark the 10-year anniversary of the G20 and discussed key topics on the global agenda, ranging from globalisation, trade and economics to climate change, migration and the fight against terrorism.
Reform of the WTO to improve its functioning
In their declaration, G20 leaders underlined that international trade and investment are important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development. They recognised the contribution that the multilateral trading system has made to that end making clear that the system is currently falling short of its objectives and there is room for improvement. G20 leaders therefore supported the necessary reform of the WTO to improve its functioning and agreed to review progress at their next Summit in Osaka in June 2019.
“The EU was, is and will be open for fair business.”
At the Summit, President Juncker made three points during his intervention at the Session on “Building Consensus – International trade, Tax and Financial Systems”, covering trade, Brexit and the reform of the World Trade Organisation.
On trade, President Juncker said: “The EU was, is and will be open for fair business.”(…)“The President of the U.S. and I have come to a common understanding of how to develop our trade relationship – the biggest in the world, worth $ 1 trillion – and we are working hard to fulfil our joint ambition of slashing costs and further easing trade. I have to tell you that U.S. LNG exports to the EU have increased by 53% since July, and soya beans imports from the U.S. to the EU have increased by 100%. Our commitment stands.”
On WTO reform the President of the European Commission said: “The EU has put forward proposals to this effect. (…) It is crucial that the G20 provides strong political support to the ongoing efforts; we should agree to instruct our Trade Ministers to work together and with other partners in Geneva to make it happen. We should achieve concrete progress by our next Summit in Osaka.”
On climate change, signatories to the Paris Agreement, who have also joined last year’s Hamburg Action Plan, reaffirmed that the Paris Agreement is irreversible and committed to its full implementation, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances. Signatories reaffirmed their commitment to continue to tackle climate change, while promoting sustainable development and economic growth.
In their declaration, G20 leaders reaffirmed their strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They agreed to step up their efforts in fighting terrorist and proliferation financing, and money laundering. They urged the digital industry to work together to fight exploitation of the internet and social media for terrorist purposes.
On migration, G20 leaders underlined that large movements of refugees are a global concern with humanitarian, political, social and economic consequences and emphasized the importance of shared actions to address the root causes of displacement and to respond to growing humanitarian needs.
In the margins of the summit Presidents Juncker and Tusk held bilateral meetings with Mr Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina, Mr Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and Mr Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister of Japan where trade issues were on top of the agenda.
In a joint letter to Heads of State or Government ahead of the Summit, Presidents Juncker and Tusk had set out the central role that the European Union is playing in shaping global affairs and championing multilateralism and set out the EU’s key priorities for this year’s G20.