Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

EU Powers Are the Real Leaders among the G20; Established 1827

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

EU Powers Are the Real Leaders among the G20; Established 1827

Article excerpt

WHEN the G20 was created almost 20 years ago it was supposed to reduce Europe's influence in the international order. A financial crisis in Asia, and the perceived arrogance of the Frenchman heading up the IMF at the time, led the rest of the world to demand a bigger seat at the top table. So the G7 with its four European slots was sidelined, and the Group of 20 was born: first as a meeting of finance ministers and then, in 2008, as a jamboree for prime ministers and presidents.

The decade since has seen European power further wane as our continent has lurched from one crisis to another, culminating in the decision by one of its biggest nations, our own, to withdraw from the European Union altogether. A year ago, no one would have imagined that anybody would be turning to the Europeans for anything other than an object lesson in decline and fall.

But a year is a long time in geo-politics. Today, as the G20 assembles in Hamburg, it is the Europeans who are along with China the only ones providing any semblance of global leadership. The remarkable turnaround is down to two people.

The first is Donald Trump. His familiar complaint is that the US's Western allies have been freeloading on American largesse for too long, and taking the good folk of Michigan and Ohio for a ride. That has spurred the rest of the West into action. Not because they agree with Mr Trump but because they violently disagree with him. Since the US is no longer the defender of international free trade but the enemy, it has encouraged the EU to get its act together and work towards free-trade deals with other anxious friends such as Japan and Australia. Since the White House is now the destroyer of climatechange co-operation rather than the instigator, it has forced the Europeans to lead the global efforts to keep the Paris Agreement alive. …

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