The G20, Emerging Powers, and Transatlantic Relations
After two and a half years of coordination on the leaders’ level, it seems appropriate to ask if the G20 achieved its goals, or is the new body perceived as efficient and legitimate? In addition to shedding light on this fundamental question of the efficiency and legitimacy of the G20, this paper addresses two additional elements of the debate on the G20. First, since the G20 is the first attempt at coordinating policies between industrialized and emerging economies by leaders, how did the inclusion of emerging powers impact the multilateral negotiations in the G20? This question seems crucial, because the integration of emerging powers has stirred an intense controversy in the media, academia, and think tanks. One line of thought portrays the rise of new powers in terms of competition and rivalry vis-à-vis old industrialized countries and stresses that these countries, especially China, do not share “Western values.” As a result, this line of thought sees these countries as not fully prepared to participate in the multilateral steering of world politics, that is, as “not ready for prime time.” The other line of thought emphasizes that emerging powers have long been integrated into the world economy through trade, investment, division of labor, and membership in key international organizations such as the IMF and the WTO. Therefore, further embedding these countries in global governance would not only constitute a necessity, but would also strengthen the international rules-based order in line with the interests of industrialized countries, including the United States. Thus, the question arising for the G20 is related to both emerging powers’ performance and their interests: Do emerging powers play a stakeholder role, or do they act (for example, as the BRICs) in concert against “the West”?
Second, this paper addresses the implications of the G20 process for the transatlantic countries, which had coordinated the world economy amongst themselves since 1975 in the Group of 7 (United States, Canada, Germany, France, U.K., Italy, and Japan). The G7 can be seen as the predecessor of the G20, but it rested on much more similar set of national political and economic systems compared to the heterogeneity of systems and legacies of countries participating in the G20. For example, the G20 includes not only market-oriented democracies like the G7, but also authoritarian regimes and state-led economies such as China. Have the decades of previous cooperation and the similarities among the G7 countries continued to tie these countries together in the G20 process, or did the rise of emerging economies and the global crisis lead the transatlantic countries to drift apart?
These three questions on the efficiency and legitimacy of the G20, embedding emerging powers in global governance, and the implications of the G20 process for the transatlantic countries will be the focus of the analysis in this paper.