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Home > Blogs > QFINANCE Editor > The G20 summit 2010 presented an appearance of unity, but not much else

The G20 summit 2010 presented an appearance of unity, but not much else

Well before the world leaders arrived in Toronto on June 25, speculation over the outcome of the summits had already begun. The major focus of the G20 summit 2010 was on global economics and banking reform, leading many to predict a clash between European and American economic ideology. Would rifts surface between European leaders and Barack Obama? Did Obama frown upon David Cameron’s recently imposed spending cuts in the UK?

As a result, many press reports of the summit centered on country leaders’ self-promotion and, equally, their self-defence, rather than the issue of global economics. Austere budget cuts across Europe meant that European leaders were forced to defend their relationships with the US. It was clear that the leaders wished to demonstrate goodwill and tolerance between all countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel put paid to rumours of disagreement between Europe and the US by stating that there was a "mutual understanding" with Barack Obama over reducing deficits, while Cameron played his part by proclaiming the summit’s support of the UK budget. Cameron was able to make statements designed to legitimize and quell public concern by drawing on the mandatory sense of accord surrounding the G20 summit. Prior to the summit, Cameron reassured us that "in the British case, the Americans and others absolutely accept that those of us with the biggest deficits ... have to accelerate the process of dealing with them."

This statement was reinforced when the British PM returned to London. On Monday, Cameron spoke positively of his first meeting as PM with Barack Obama. "It's a mistake to think this summit has been about a different approach between the Americans and Europeans," he said, again aiming to allay fears that the new Conservative-dominated government would not enjoy the same relationship with the Democratic President. However, Nick Robinson at the BBC voiced concerns, saying that regarding the economy "there can be little doubt that the president felt more comfortable with David Cameron's predecessor than with him," but also pointed out that Obama publicly praised Cameron for his "necessary courageous action" in dealing with Britain’s budget deficit.

The outcome of the G20 summit was certainly borne of compromise, but was it at the cost of tangible aims and direction? Every major G20 leader promised to cut their deficits by half in the next three years while remaining committed to encouraging growth, a decision which accepts both European austerity measures and US calls for growth. "This was a fairly vacuous G20,” former City Minister Lord Myners said on Radio 4’s Today program. He added that the summit “neglected the challenge” of how economic growth would be achieved in practice. Perhaps this is because leaders were too busy putting on a show of friendship and mutual support to confront the real matters in hand.

Further reading on the G20 summit 2010 and global economics



Tags: economic recovery , G20 , global view , international differences , summit
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