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The most frequently asked question ahead of the G20 summit in London was: Will it live up to our expectations? The answer depends on what you want from it.
In fact, it would be completely wrong to judge an event by expectations. If you really want to know what was expected from the London summit, read the communique issued by the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 countries at Horsham in southern England in mid-March.
It showed progress on the main issues on the agenda for the April summit, with agreement on action to restore global growth and lending by the world’s banks.
As for the London summit, you cannot seriously believe that the G20 leaders will solve all the problems within 4 hours and 35 minutes, the official duration of the summit.
The summit’s final statement could stipulate many necessary moves, but their effectiveness will be judged only in five or six months’ time. Everything depends on the participants’ readiness to take them and to make them part of a systemic approach to the crisis.
Nobody believes that the London summit is “the last stop,” or that the G20 must find a solution or the world will go bust. Brazilian President Lula da Silva said before going to London that the summit would be a failure if the participants did nothing more than agree to meet again. This is his hot Latin American blood speaking.
The London summit is only, and could not be anything other than, a stopover to a final destination. It is logical to agree on some measures, give each other time to see how they are implemented, and then meet again to affirm or correct them.
The April 2 summit should be viewed as part of the process, not its culmination. The participants know that they will have to meet again, and they even know where and when – in Asia, possibly in Japan or China, in November.
The world’s developed and emerging economies should learn their lessons from this crisis. One of the lessons is that summits cannot be judged by their final statements. In fact, we should reconsider holding summits of such groups as G5 and G8 – and the G20 that has grown out of them – altogether.
The London summit cannot even be described as a G20 meeting, because not 20 but 29 national leaders and representatives of international organizations have met in the British capital.
There is a lack of logic in the creation of all these groups and their subsequent expansion. An exclusive club, if its operation is effective, does not need to expand, to admit more members. And a club is not an ad hoc structure set up for the duration of a crisis.
Such forms of interaction are good only for dealing with the consequences of a crisis. But if we want to eradicate the reasons for it, we should create a permanent agency.
If the world’s leaders who have gathered in London accept this simple truth, the summit will be a success. In fact, it is rumored that the G20 may be changed into a permanent organization with a secretariat and administration.